This week in Illinois history: Aug. 6-Aug. 12
Aug. 6, 1824 - Illinois. A movement to legalize slavery in Illinois fails. Gov. Edward Coles brought his abolitionist philosophy to office as the state’s second governor, as Monticello.org reports. Although he was the heir to a plantation (and slaves) in Virginia, Coles walked away from it. "As a strong supporter of emancipation, he freed his slaves on route to Illinois and helped them settle in the new state. He was elected governor in 1822 and led anti-slavery forces in the 1824 Constitutional Convention resolution vote that guaranteed Illinois would remain free," Monticello.org states.
Aug. 7, 1869 - Illinois. The state saw its last total solar eclipse on this date. How often do people usually see a total solar eclipse? It’s not even a once-in-a-lifetime milestone, according to a report in CarbondaleRocks.com. But when the last one occurred on this date almost 150 years ago, “everybody in Springfield” was ready, even without the benefit of the modern media. How? CarbondaleRocks.com says scientists flocked to the city to make observations and take measurements. Spectators watched as the sky “changed to purple, then black, spilling forth starlight across the land of Lincoln.”
Aug. 8, 1988 - Chicago. The Cubs play their first night game under Wrigley Field’s electric lights. Could it be that Wrigley Field waited nearly three-quarters of a century to bathe its diamond in electric lights? The legendary field hosted only day games for the Cubs from 1914 until this date in history, when they matched up against the Philadelphia Phillies, according to History.com. The game was rained out, however, so the record books say the first night game was an Aug. 9 win over the New York Mets.
Aug. 8, 1870 - Springfield. The people of Illinois ratify their first constitution. State leaders had tried to pass a constitution several times before the one in 1870, according to the Illinois Digital Archive. Those were unsatisfactory for various reasons, so it wasn’t until this attempt post-Civil War that the efforts were successful. As the archives say, this attempt won the popular vote based on the idea it would make government more effective.
Aug. 9, 1878 - Ogles County. The city of Byron becomes incorporated. Known as the Gateway to Rock River, Byron was initially dubbed Bloomingdale. But as History Illinois points out, city leaders feared confusion over the old name’s similarity to Bloomington in McLean County. Hence Byron became the official name in 1838, four decades before the city achieved the status of a municipal corporation.
Aug. 10, 1887 - Chatsworth. Accident kills 85 passengers aboard Toledo, Peoria & Western Railroad train. Known as the Great Chatsworth Train Wreck (according to RoadsideAmerica.com), this nighttime disaster saw the wooden-car train engulfed in flames after somehow igniting between Peoria and Niagra Falls. All that is left to commemorate the accident is a metal plaque detailing the tragedy.
Aug. 12, 1833 - Chicago. The city’s trustees meet for the first time since becoming incorporated. Founded in 1830, this jewel of the Midwest achieved legal status on this date three years after its founding, according to the Illinois Historical Society timeline. The city’s name is derived from “a Miami Indian word for the wild leeks that grew on the bank of the short Chicago River," as History.com puts it.