502 South Spring Springfield, IL
This Windsor-style rocking chair belonged to Conrad Will, a co-author of Illinois’ 1818 constitution and the namesake of Will County.
Mining hats provided some protection from soot and dust, but their main function was to serve as a place to mount a lamp, which was essential for working underground. This hat would have had a carbide lamp attached to the metal piece over the bill. Carbide lamps burned more cleanly and brightly than oil lamps, although the open flames still posed a danger with the potential of igniting methane gas underground.
Dr. John Miles Waite used this amputation kit as a surgeon on the 1st Illinois Cavalry during the Civil War. Waite was born in Richfield, Ohio, in 1834. He later attended the Cleveland College of Medicine and then opened a pharmacy in St. Louis. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted as a private to escape domestic discord with his young bride. After the war, he divorced his wife and moved to Mound City, Illinois, where he became one of Pulaski County’s first physicians.
This bucket contained animal fat or tar used to grease the wheels of the ox-drawn wagon that transported John Ivins Foster and his family to Illinois from Kentucky in November 1829. Foster, a gunsmith and farmer by trade, settled in Curran township, Sangamon County, where he eventually amassed more than 360 acres.
Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were engaged in a heated rivalry (known as the War of the Currents) to see whose invention would ultimately be adopted by the world at large. The first light bulb pictured here is a model of the first incandescent bulb invented by Thomas Edison. It ran on direct current (DC), a current of electricity that runs continuously in a single direction. While DC was standard in the United States in the early years of electricity, it could not easily be converted to higher or lower voltages. Nikola Tesla solved that problem by developing alternating current (AC), which could easily be converted to different voltages using a transformer.
This typewriter was produced by the Oliver Typewriter Company, which had its headquarters in Chicago and its manufacturing plant in Woodstock. Oliver was the first company to produce a “visible writer” that allowed typists to see what they were typing. On earlier typewriters, typists had to raise the platen to see what they had typed. At the company’s peak in the late 1910s, it was producing 375 machines a day.
The Kirtland’s Water Snake shares some similar habitats and habits as the Massasauga Rattlesnake and is also under scrutiny as its numbers continue to decline. It is not venomous, but it uses crayfish burrows like the Massasauga and spends most of its life underground. Biologists hoping to survey the secretive snake often will use a cover board, a corrugated sheet of aluminum that is placed over a crayfish burrow.
The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake is a small, venomous snake recently listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It persists in only a few locations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The Fish and Wildlife Service describes the Massasauga as “a small snake with a thick body, heart-shaped head and vertical pupils.”
The Nine-banded Armadillo is native to Mexico, Central, and South America but has expanded its range north into the southern United States. They first appeared in Texas in the mid 1800s and were also introduced into Florida by about 1900. Now Armadillos are being seen more frequently in Illinois as they slowly push northward.
The Bobcat was nearly eliminated from Illinois by the mid 20th century, landing it on the state list of threatened and endangered species from 1977-1999. Today, Bobcats have been documented in every county but are most numerous in the southern half of the state. They are secretive, mostly nocturnal hunters that prefer forest environments for cover. They can be up to three-and-half feet long (including tail) and weigh up to 40 pounds (but averaging 22 pounds), making adult Bobcats larger than even the biggest house cat.