Herman Silas Pepoon (1860-1941) was a local naturalist with a particular focus on the plants of Illinois and the Midwest. He spent a considerable amount of time exploring Apple River Canyon, where he identified and collected over 500 species of plants. One of his most noteworthy discoveries in the canyon was Bird’s Eye Primrose (Primula mistassinica), a plant previously found only in more northerly locations.
John C. McKenzie (1860-1941) began his career as a lawyer in the small village of Elizabeth in northwestern Illinois. He served in the Illinois House from 1892 to 1896 and in the Illinois Senate from 1900 until 1911. He used this desk until the State ordered new ones for both chambers.
A cradle reaper was used to cut crops such as wheat, oats, and hay and then rake the cut crop into a single row. Pitchforks would then be used to throw the harvested crop into a wagon to be hauled to the farmer's barn for storage. This particular cradle reaper was used on the Snipe Hollow Farm near Elizabeth, Illinois, sometime in the late 1800s.
The telegraph, invented by Samuel F.B Morse in 1844, opened nearly instant communication with the wider world, and railroads quickly lined their tracks with telegraph poles, continuing to use this infrastructure long after later inventions such as the telephone were commonplace. Today, a train's diesel horn still sounds the letter 'Q' in Morse code at all grade crossings: dash, dash, dot, dash.
From its opening in 1905, O.M. Bishop called his store "The Busy Big Store," advertising five departments (clothing, shoes, groceries, variety, and dishes) under one roof. On the second floor, the biggest theater in the county at its opening, the Lyric Theater, showed movies from 1916-1931. This space also served as a community meeting house where dances, suppers, vaudeville shows, graduations, and even roller skating took place.
Well before Illinois became a state, Native American tribes (the Sac and Fox) living in the area mined galena ore (lead sulfide), the source of lead. Pioneer settlers also exploited the area’s lead resources, eventually displacing the Native Americans who first mined here. In the 1820s, galena ore became the focus of the first major “mineral rush” in the United States. By the end of the 1820s, the city of Galena rivaled Chicago in size.