This week in Illinois history: Oct. 15-21
Oct. 15, 1966 - Collinsville. The Cahokia Mounds ancient settlement joined the National Register of Historic Places. Billing itself as “the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico,” Cahokia has hosted countless school field trips over the years, according to a letter from retired state Sen. Evelyn Bowles. The once-thriving community bested London in size during its heyday, which occurred around 1250 A.D.
Oct. 16, 1854 - Peoria. Future president Abraham Lincoln positioned himself as an opponent of slavery. Lincoln took a crucial first step toward the White House in openly arguing against “the morality of slavery,” as historian Mark E. Neely Jr. states in his book “The Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia.” At stake in this particular speech was the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed settlers to these newly formed states to determine whether they would allow slave-owners to settle.
Oct. 17, 1931 - Illinois. Jury found Al Capone guilty of tax evasion. This conviction toppled Capone as a leader of organized crime, the website Finding Dulcinea says, sending the former crime boss first to an Atlanta prison and later to the infamous Alcatraz. After his parole in 1939, Capone’s declining health sidelined any further criminal aspirations, and he remained in exile. The charge of tax evasion became a popular tactic for prosecutors seeking a conviction if scant evidence for other crimes existed.
Oct. 18, 1924 - Champaign. Fighting Illini halfback “Red” Grange earned his nickname the “Galloping Ghost.” His performance in this game against Michigan, where he scored five touchdowns – four of them in 12 minutes – propelled the University of Illinois to a 39-14 victory, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. In later years, he launched a 25-year sports broadcasting career.
Oct. 19, 1897 - Chicago. Inventor George M. Pullman died. A prominent industrialist during America’s Golden Age, Pullman’s eponymous railroad car kept thousands employed during the railroad boom of the late 19th century, as Encyclopedia Britannica states. To maintain the coach’s production, he formed the company town of Pullman, a 4,000-acre development south of Chicago, populated by his factory workers. Later, those workers went on strike over a wage and rent dispute. The company continued for decades after his death, but had closed by the mid-1980s.
Oct. 20, 1865 - McLean County. U.S. Congressman Robert Mann, a Republican known for regulating commerce, was born. Mann’s quarter-century tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives contributed two key pieces of consumer legislation, as West’s Encyclopedia of American Law notes. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 aimed at improving the quality of medicine and food, two items that fell under federal interstate commerce jurisdiction. The 1910 Mann-Elkins Act gave Congress oversight of rates charged by telecommunications and railroad providers.
Oct. 21, 1985 - Chicago. Welsh runner Steve Jones set a world record in the city’s marathon. Jones, a UK native and mechanic in the Royal Airforce, did not even finish his first attempt to complete this 26.2-mile race in 1983, according to Chicago Tribune coverage. But for 1985’s competition, his time of just over 2:07 bested the previous record by almost a minute. His $95,000 prize enabled him to become a professional runner and landed him a consulting gig with shoe manufacturer Reebok.