Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

up to the fury of the storm, drifted away before the wind and large numbers of sheep lost their lives. The railroads were blockaded, the Chicago & Alton trains not being able to pass from Springfield to Bloomington for three days, nor from Bloomington to Joliet for eight or nine days.

The great sleet of January 13, 1871, was an event that should be noted. The forest trees around Bloomington and the shrubbery in private yards were irreparably injured. The sleet was equivalent to more than an inch of rain. Telegraph poles were broken, and in many cases all the large limbs broke from trees. Nearly one-third of the foliage-bearing branches were thus crushed; whole trees fell down and the dam. age to our fruit and shade trees is still plainly visible.

In the winter of 1873, during an intensely cold spell, when the thermometer had fallen about twenty degrees below zero, the wind changed in the night to the south, and, for a few hours, there was most a remarkably low temperature, with a high south wind. At one time, the thermometer was from twenty-six to thirty-two degrees below zero, according to the instrument and its exposure.

The winter of 1877 and 1878, will long be remembered on account of its extreme mildness. At no time was the ice in the vicinity of Bloomington over three inches in thickness. The entire winter was about as mild as average April weather. Rains were frequent, often very heavy, and, before the 1st of January, the roads were impassable, and remained so from about January 1 to the middle of March. Business of all kinds was nearly suspended, and a general gloom pervaded the community.

The following winter was just the reverse. Snow fell early in December, followed by fifteen inches of level snow on the 13th of December, which remained for nearly six weeks. The sleighing was the best ever known, and was enjoyed to the fullest extent. Washington street was, by general consent, given up to the fast-stepping horses for which Bloomington is so famous, and was crowded with gay and happy parties every afternoon—often as many as fifty-five teams being visible at one time. Near the close of the sleighing season, on the 11th of January, 1879, there was a grand sleighing carnival, or free ride, for all the children of the city, participated in by nearly three thousand. It was a sight long to be remembered. There were over two hundred sleighs, of all sorts and sizes, many of them gayly decorated with flags and streamers. Thousands of spectators lined the streets, and the excitement and enthusiasm were both novel and pleasant.

Our list will close with the mention of the five cold mornings in January, 1879. January 2, the thermometer was twenty degrees below zero; on the 3d, twenty-eight; on the 4th, seventeen; on the 5th, twenty; and on the 6th, ten degrees below-making, probably, five of the coldest days ever known in such close connection.

EVENTS DURING THE WAR.

Bloomington is entitled to rank with the most patriotic cities in the land. It can show a proud record from the time when its citizens volunteered to aid the settlers of the exposed northern frontiers of Illinois to the last day of the civil war. Its list of heroes must be included in the county's record, as there is no way of fairly separating the city from the county; but it is proper that we mention some of the stirring events that took place in the city itself.

When Fort Sumter was fired on, and the President's call for volunteers appeared, in April, 1861, our city was not behind the rest of the land in its readiness to respond,

[graphic][merged small]

A public meeting was held at once, when speeches were made that gave evidence of the patriotic feelings of the people. The enthusiasm for the old flag was deep and earnest. Cheers, shouts and excitement abounded. Volunteers were called for, and in an incredibly short time, a company was raised for the three-months service called for, largely made up of energetic, enthusiastic young men from this city. In three or four days, the company left for Springfield, under Capt. Harvey, and it served its time at Cairo.

As soon as this company was full, several other companies were at once organized, For a few days it seemed as if every able-bodied man would volunteer. Four or five companies were drilling daily, made up from all classes of citizens. Had the Government been able to take all the troops offered, there is no doubt that at least six hundred men would have enlisted at once, in the month of May, from Bloomington alone. The day that the first company, under Capt. Harvey, left town, and also the day of their return from Cairo, are memorable events. On both occasions, the streets were literally crowded with spectators. The first was a time of the deepest and most poignant affliction; the last was a season of joy and gratitude. These two events were repeated over and over again during the next few years; but never were equaled in intensity of feeling, except on the days of the leaving and returning of the entire McLean County regiment—the Ninety-fourth Illinois Volunteers—which left August 25, 1862, and returned Augus: 9, 1865.

August 26, 1861, about three hundred of the men of the Thirty-third Illinois Regiment left this city and county for Springfield, and again was there leave-taking and patriotic excitement in our streets. This regiment included one company (A) of students from Normal, and one company made up largely from Bloomington. The latter was Company C, of which E. R. Roe was Captain. Roe edited the Democratic Statesman at the time. He was soon promoted, and his place was filled by Capt. E. J. Lewis, who enlisted in the company as a private soldier. Lewis edited the Pantagraph at the time the war broke out, served with great credit until the close of the war, and again edited the same paper for five or six years after his return.

It was noticed, as the war became an old story, that the departure of troops grew to be more and more an individual matter, left by the public mainly to those interested -the departing soldier and his intimate friends and relatives; but at the close, every detachment that returned was welcomed most enthusiastically.

The excitement caused by the destruction, in August, 1862, of the Bloomington Times, a sheet with Southern sympathies too strong for this latitude, was most intense. The soldiers of the Ninety-fourth Regiment performed this job, aided by uncontrollable spirits who were willing to assist when sure that the blame or praise would be awarded to the departing volunteers.

On the 2d of September, 1862, a dispatch was received from Springfield at about midnight, calling for 200 men, instantly, to guard a large detachment of rebels stationed at Camp Butler. The fire-bells were rung; the public responded; the state of the case explained; the required number was enlisted in a few hours, and a little after daylight made their appearance at Springfield, creating the utmost astonishment at the patriotic promptitude with which our citizens volunteered. Old men, boys and cripples went on this expedition as readily as the able-bodied. It appeared some one at Springfield had an idea the rebel prisoners might make an attempt to escape, and relied on Bloomington's well-known habit of prompt and instantaneous action, to call together,

1

M

suddenly, a force that should overawe the prisoners who had been carelessly left with too small a guard.

During the early part of the year 1862, several soldiers' funerals took place at Bloomington, stirring the city to its very heart. Among the most noted, we may mention that of Lieut. Joseph G. Howell, who had enlisted at the first call in 1861, resigning his place as Principal of the Model School at Normal. He was a noble young man, with troops of warm friends. He was killed at Fort Donelson. Capt. Harvey, killed a little later, at Pittsburg Landing, was honored with a public funeral, and the city was plunged in grief once more. We should also mention Col. Hogg's and Col. William McCullough's funerals, and others.

Immense sums were given in aid of the families of soldiers in the early part of the war; but later, the public sympathy was mainly directed through the Sanitary Commission, to the assistance of those in the field. In 1864, as much as $10,000 was sent in money in one donation, of which Isaac Funk gave $5,000. There was a constant stream of charity pouring in this direction, whose dimensions in the aggregate must have been magnificent.

At the Presidential election, in 1864, there was tremendous excitement. Many of the soldiers were at home; some discharged for disability, others by expiration of three years' enlistment, and many were at home on furlough. These were well aware that during the whole time of their absence there had been a “fire in the rear;” and from a variety of causes, great feeling was manifested. At that time, the whole township of Bloomington, polling 1,774 votes, had one voting place—the old jail-building, on the northwest corner of the Court House square. The election, after all, was one of the quietest on record, though probably one-third of the voters carried pistols, ready for any outbreak that might occur. The Judges of the election were A. B. Ives, John Dawson and J. H. Burnham. In spite of the rapidity with which they were obliged to decide all cases of challenged votes, their decisions were acquiesced in by the leading men of both parties most cheerfully, and their feat of taking votes at the rate of three per minute, at a time of such a hot contest, can scarcely be paralleled. Mr. Lincolo had a majority of about six hundred in the township of Bloomington.

During the winter of 1864, Company K of the Twenty-sixth Illinois Regiment of which Gen. I. J. Bloomfield was the Captain, returned to this county on veteran furlough," and were kindly welcomed by the citizens of Bloomington.

On the 14th of March, 1864, the entire Thirty-third Regiment Illinois Volunteers arrived at Bloomington on their “veteran furlough,” on their way from Texas to their different homes in Illinois.

There were over four hundred of these heroes, of whom quite a number were from Bloomington. The citizens gave them a warm-hearted reception at Royce Hall, which was unlooked for by the veterans, and was a fitting tribute to the brave men who so nobly continued in the service of the country. This class of soldiers, entitled to more praise than any other, have generally been treated like ordinary volunteers. Now the fact is, they really stand the highest in the list of the nation's defenders. Their volunteering in the face of danger, after three years' service, was convincing proof to the rebels that they never could succeed in their undertaking.

The day before the Presidential election, in 186+, large bodies of suspicious looking men came from Southern Illinois to this city, and changed cars for Chicago. James

« AnteriorContinuar »