This week in Illinois history: Feb. 28-March 4
Feb. 28, 1931 - Joliet. Birthdate of reporter Robert D. Novak. The Illinois native worked his way up from a cub reporter earning $68 per week, as The New York Times reports, to syndicated columnist and cable TV news pundit in a career that spanned a half-century.
Feb. 26, 1995 - Glenview. Naval Air Station Glenview launches its final flight. By the time this Air Force base closed, it had been open nearly 60 years as a fixture during World War II and the Cold War, according to the Military History of the Upper Great Lakes website. Pilots learned to land aboard aircraft carriers on nearby Lake Michigan, and in later years used the base for the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds air shows.
Feb. 27, 1979 - Chicago. Jane Byrne becomes the first woman to win Chicago's mayoral primary. Byrne rode a crest of support among liberals, women and blacks to become Chicago’s first female mayor, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I can tell you that getting here wasn’t easy,” she said in her inaugural address, posted on the Chicago Public Library’s website. Byrne said her election was proof voters wanted policy changes. However, she was unable to win re-election due to an erosion of support among those same constituents, who faulted her deal-making with so-called insiders, the Tribune reported.
Feb. 28, 1867 - Springfield. New York native Robert Ingersoll elected Illinois attorney general. Ingersoll’s support of abolition and voting rights for women, as well as controversial religious views (he was a deist), kept him from running for governor. He was successful as an attorney general and public speaker, according to the Marion Illinois History Preservation.
March 1, 1874 - Evanston. Grosse Point Lighthouse opens. After Lake Michigan had seen its share of fatal maritime accidents, the federal government responded to citizens’ pleas by building a beacon to warn captains Chicago was ahead, according to GrossePointLighthouse.net. Though it closed in 1934, it stands today as a national landmark.
March 2, 1921 - Chicago. Teenage bank clerk captured after netting $772,000 in embezzlement scheme. At age 17, William Dalton had figured out how to make a fortune, albeit illegally, according to The New York Times. He was supposed to count and verify the bonds, delivering them to another department. Instead, he left with them at lunch, The Times reports. Upon his arrest, officials found all but $500 of the fortune, which was returned to the bank.
March 2, 1868 - Urbana-Champaign. University of Illinois opens campus. According to university archives, the school launched to become a “West Point for the working world.” Launched to provide an engineering or business curriculum, today a fourth of its graduates complete graduate or professional programs, according to the university's archives.
March 3, 1902 - Chicago. Prussia’s Prince Henry visits Everleigh Club. When the German emperor’s brother visits your hometown, he should see the sights, but this prince wanted to stop by the Everleigh Club, a notorious brothel whose reputation had apparently preceded it halfway around the world. This part of the itinerary was kept a secret for years.
March 3, 1907 - Rantoul. Birthdate of haircare mogul Jheri Redding. The list of companies Redding, a former farm boy, founded is stunning: Redken, Jhirmack, Nexxus and his eponymous firm. The New York Times credited him with being the first to market pH-balanced shampoo and lace his products with vitamins, all for the good cause of helping the little guy: the salon owners he helped become wealthy, the Times reports.
March 3, 1873 - Belleville. Trumbull finishes third senatorial term. Though a Connecticut native, Lyman Trumbull served as an attorney after relocating to Belleville in 1837. He then went on to hold a number of state offices, including a seat in the state House, secretary of state and Illinois Supreme Court justice. His years in the U.S. Senate encompassed 1855-1873, according to the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress website.
March 4, 1978 - Chicago. Chicago Daily News ceases publication. An afternoon newspaper, the Daily News published for 102 years, The Chicago Tribune reports, but fell victim to changing times and readerships. Suburbanites clogged the paper’s afternoon delivery routes during their commutes, the Tribune notes, and others settled for TV news.