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updated: 4/4/2011 2:09 PM

How well do you know Elgin area history?

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This column marks my 15th anniversary with The Daily Herald. During this time, it has been my pleasure to share various stories with you about our area's past.

I hope I have helped you understand those who lived before us experienced many of the same joys, sorrows and challenges we do today. Just as importantly, I hope I have deepened your understanding of the heritage they have left us -- both in terms of traditions, as well as the physical environment that remains.

"Where do you get your story ideas?" I'm often asked.

Many come from Daily Herald readers, and I hope you will continue to share those with me. These might be stories about people, organizations or buildings. No idea is too small, and some might involve a bit of a mystery that readers can help solve.

To commemorate my 15 years, here's a quiz taken from information presented in past stories. It is written just as much for those who have read every column as well as those who are new today.

So, give it a try. How much do you know about Elgin area history?

1. What noted individual did not speak at Elgin's First Congregational Church -- a downtown edifice that long served as a community center?

A) William Rainey Harper

B) Booker T. Washington

C) Jane Addams

D) Susan B. Anthony

2. What event occurred decades ago that began the long tradition of Elgin area people vacationing in and even buying property in the Hayward area in northern Wisconsin?

A) They knew a car mechanic who opened a lodge in the Hayward area.

B) An Elgin lumber company operated a logging camp in the area.

C) An Elgin dairy business had a Wisconsin location.

D) The organizer of a Hayward logging contest was from Elgin.

3. When the Elgin Golferettes began the league in the early 1950s -- a group which still plays today -- 24 of the 32 players had what special distinction?

A) They were left-handed.

B) They had never played golf before.

C) They attended the same church.

D) They were all elementary school teachers.

4. What prompted an Elgin merchant nine decades ago to dress like Paul Revere and ride around the streets of Elgin on a horse?

A) He was intoxicated.

B) It was a sales promotion for new cars.

C) It was the start of World War I.

D) It was a Fourth of July celebration.

5. More than 1,000 mothers held a campaign in 1953 to collect money for what?

A) books for school libraries

B) playground equipment

C) fighting polio

D) campaign against nuclear weapons

6. What recreational event occurred just over a century ago on a frozen section of the Fox River just south of the current Grand Victoria Casino?

A) snowman contest

B) ice skating contest

C) fishing derby

D) horse racing

7. What inspired an Elgin man to found Little League Baseball in the city in the early 1950s?

A) he saw an article in a magazine

B) he had a son who played youth ball in another community

C) he was a former major league player

D) fulfillment of a will request

8. What heavy weight prize fighter once trained on a farm east of Elgin?

A) Floyd Patterson

B) Sonny Liston

C) Muhammad Ali

D) Joe Louis

9. The Elgin Jaycees gave away more than 1,000 of these during the 1961 winter holiday season. What were they?

A) fruit baskets

B) turkeys

C) buckets of sand

D) wreaths

10. The one-time triangular area bordered by Douglas Avenue, Grove Avenue and Chicago Street was called what?

A) Town Square

B) Fountain Square

C) Tower Plaza

D) Elgin Bank Center

11. What innovation was pioneered in the U.S. at Elgin's Larkin Avenue McDonald's restaurant?

A) a double drive-through lane

B) ice cream cones

C) breakfast menu

D) inside dining

12. What drink is traditionally served at Elgin area clubs on winter holidays?

A) Bloody Mary

B) Champagne

C) Tom and Jerry

D) hot buttered rum

13. What scandalous story made Elgin headlines in 1907?

A) wife trading

B) gambling in a church

C) nude swimming

D) bank embezzlement

14. Five of the 10 model homes built as part of Elgin's new Blackhawk housing development in the early 1950s had something the others did not. What was it?

A) TV antenna

B) fireplace

C) basement

D) central vacuum system

15. What were the "Elgin Torpedoes"?

A) an Elgin boat club

B) an Elgin-made speedboat

C) an Elgin swim team

D) an Elgin football team

Bonus Question:

What did the superintendent of the Northern Illinois Hospital for the Insane, now the Elgin Mental Health Center, introduce to help treat mental illness in the early 1900s?

A) golf

B) a locally developed drug

C) fencing

D) electric therapy


1. (D) Susan B. Anthony

2. (A) They knew a car mechanic who opened a lodge in the Hayward area; Ted Moody was advised by his doctor to seek employment in a cleaner air environment. After opening Moody's Resort, many Elgin people traveled to see him and stay at his lodge.

3. (B) They had never played golf before. The group began as an Elgin National Watch Company league.

4. (C) The start of World War I. He rode about town yelling, "The enemy is coming."

5. (C) fighting polio

6. (D) Horse racing. Reports indicated that there was betting involved with the event as well.

7. (A) He saw an article in a magazine. Orlow Davis read a story called "Small Fry At Bat" in Reader's Digest and presented his idea for youth baseball to the Elgin United Civic Association.

8. (A) Floyd Patterson. He trained at the Mary Crest Farm on Rohrssen Road.

9. (C) Buckets of sand. They were to help motorists gain traction in winter weather.

10. (B) Fountain Square. The area long had a fountain which no longer exists.

11. (A) A double drive-through lane. The innovation in the late 1980s was the first of its kind in the nation.

12. (C) Tom and Jerry. This hot drink made with rum and brandy has been a tradition for decades.

13. (A) Wife trading. Two southeast married couples traded partners.

14. (C) basement

15. (D) An Elgin football team. The team, which was composed of young men who did not go to college but wanted to play, was active during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Bonus question: (A) golf. Some reports indicate the "Asylum Hills" course was enjoyed as much by the staff as the patients.

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