LOOKING BACK IN TIME

Two hundred years ago, on December 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state in the Union. When we think of Illinois today, we think of Chicago with 2,707,120 people, skyscrapers, trains, four lane highways, and world-class hospitals. We think of Chicago as the economic engine of the state. Things were quite different two hundred years ago.

The area originally known as the Illinois Territory was blessed with navigable rivers, fertile prairie land, dense timber, and a climate suited for agriculture. Hidden beneath the surface were seams of coal and layers of limestone. The area also had a rich history of Indian occupation, as evidenced by the following:

  • Thousands of years before Illinois became a state, Paleo-Indians, a nomadic people, and their descendants, archaic Indians, lived in Illinois. According to “Illinois History” at http://www.illinoiscourts.gov, the culture of these Indians dated before 5000 B.C. Their descendants were the Woodland Indians.
  • By 900 A.D., Middle Mississippi Indians had built huge earthen mounds in Illinois, such as Cahokia Mounds near St. Louis. They also had developed complex urban areas. The largest city, Cahokia, was estimated to have had a population of between 10,000 to 40,000 at its peak.
  • The descendants of the Middle Mississippi Indians were the Illiniwek tribes. You probably recognize some of the names of the twelve Illiniwek tribes such as the Winnebago, the Fox, the Kikapoo, the Macoutins, the Miamis, and the Illinois.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 charted this region and organized counties. Early villages in Illinois were primarily in the southern part of the state along the Mississippi, Kaskaskia, Wabash, Big Muddy, and Ohio rivers. A map courtesy of the Illinois State Museum shows numerous early villages including Alton, Vandalia, Salem, Lawrenceville, Vienna, and Edwardsville.

In 1818, prior to achieving statehood, Illinois adopted its first constitution and selected Kaskaskia as its first state capitol. However, according to “Illinois History,” an Illinois Courts article at http://www.illinoiscourts.gov, the granting of statehood was controversial. First, the population was less than the 60,000 which was required. Second, in order to include the Chicago port area in the new state, Congress had to draw the Illinois border fifty-one miles to the north of the original Northwest Territory boundary.

Two years later, the state capitol was moved eighty miles east to Vandalia. During the next twenty years, three different buildings in Vandalia served as the state capitol. The last one, which still stands today, was built in 1836.

The population of Illinois was growing northward, and it seemed prudent to locate the capitol in the middle of the state. Abraham Lincoln, a legislator from Sangamon County, helped convince colleagues to move the capitol from Vandalia to Springfield. The new building was begun in 1837.

—By Karen Centowski

GOVERNOR’S MANSION RESTORED

Did you know that the Illinois Governor’s Mansion in Springfield is the third-oldest governor’s mansion still in use in the United States? Designed by Chicago architect John M. Van Osdel, the sixteen room Italianate mansion was completed in 1855.

After decades of neglect and lack of upkeep, the Illinois Governor’s Mansion at 410 E. Jackson Street in Springfield had suffered significant interior and exterior deterioration. Roof repairs were a priority to prevent further water damage to the interior.

In May of 2015, the non-profit Illinois Executive Mansion Association launched a campaign to raise $15 million from private donors to restore the 162-year-old mansion. Two years later, the association had reached its goal. The yearlong renovation began.

During the renovation, Governor Bruce Rauner and his wife, Diana, lived in the Director’s House on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. When asked about living on the fairgrounds, “I have to say, I’ll be happy not to be listening to the speedway anymore,” Diana joked. “I’ll be listening to the trains instead.”

When the renovation is complete, the mansion will be ADA-accessible and have a fully functioning kitchen in the private residence. It will also have a revamped visitor’s experience to showcase the history of Illinois. According to The State Journal-Register posting May 21, 2018, “The mansion will include exhibits highlighting 1893’s World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois life during the Civil War, the children who have lived in the mansion, and an “Art of Illinois” project showcasing 80 pieces of fine and decorative art throughout the building.”

According to The State Journal-Register, the goal is to complete restoration in time for the August 2018 bicentennial of Illinois statehood. “This is one of the most historic, beautiful governor’s mansions anywhere in the United States, and we’re very proud to have it restored to its historic beauty,” Governor Rauner said.

What’s ahead for the mansion? Diana Rauner, who had co-chaired the non-profit Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association, said, “Ensuring that the building is well-taken care of is really important. One of the things that we’re so proud of is that this building will now be part of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Department of Natural Resources. It will be well-curated and well-cared for.”

—By Karen Centowski


To see photos taken during the restoration, go to Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/illinoismansion/

Just the Beginning

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Our challenge starts July 1st, 2018, but I am not waiting till then to get my exercise routine up and going. I want to hit July 1st with some momentum going.

Yep, my morning workout doesn't look like much (today 6/6/18), but trust me, it's just the beginning. One step, one inch, one meter, one mile at a time.

Last night I did about the same thing, which as you know is not very difficult. Not very hard to just go out and jog for 20 minutes twice a day. The basic idea is to do something, to get your body in the mood, and slowly but surely improve your condition.

You see, my pace today started at 14 minute/mile, and then topped at ~11 minute/mile. Not superb, but again, do not miss the point of this, which is to get going/moving.

Things I will be doing during this challenge include, but might not be limited to:

  1. Battle rope (Already doing, and it's a superb exercise.)
  2. Weight Training (Using my Bowflex. I prefer free weights, but will do with what I have.)
  3. Running / Walking (Never been a good runner, but I know this is a great way to get in shape.)
  4. Calisthenics (Push-Ups, Jumping Jacks, Planks, etc.)

See you on the other side!

Edward Lara