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updated: 10/25/2011 7:56 AM

A look at Elgin headlines 100 years ago

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  • These Elgin High School students were among the first to graduate from a new two-year program begun in 1911. School officials later credited the plan with helping some students develop a greater interest in school and remain to become four-year graduates.

      These Elgin High School students were among the first to graduate from a new two-year program begun in 1911. School officials later credited the plan with helping some students develop a greater interest in school and remain to become four-year graduates.
    Courtesy of Jerry Turnquist

 

"I can't believe they dropped that sacred vow from wedding ceremonies."

"No matter what Elgin does it can't control drinking with a 'Black List.'"

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"With over 100 policemen on the street tonight, I sure hope they can stop the Halloween vandalism."

These are some comments people might have made after reading the Elgin-area newspapers of a century ago. Here's a look at those and other stories that made headlines during early fall of 1911.

Wedding changes: It was time to eliminate "honor and obey" from the marriage vows, according to the Elgin police magistrate. Instead of the traditional phrase, the official said he would be using "cherish and protect" in the services he performed.

"There was a time when the wife obeyed every command, but that day has passed. Women have been placed on almost equal footing with men," added the official. The change also prevented couples from "perjuring themselves" during the wedding ceremony, he explained.

Black List: "The Black List," which prohibited certain residents from purchasing alcoholic beverages, was not effective, said the Elgin Police Department.

"There are few on the black list who get their friends to get liquor for them," said the police chief. "There should be punishment for these go-betweens too."

In addition to fines ranging from $3 to $50, the top cop wanted liquor establishments to keep a photo of each person on the "black list" on file in their establishments.

"Deadbeats" beware: Employees who failed to pay their debts at businesses in the community were warned that "deadbeats" would be "cut from the city payroll," explained a city council member.

The official was also upset with a city employee who spent his entire salary on liquor leaving his wife and family without any income.

"If city employees fail to provide support for their families because their earnings are spent over a bar, they will find that vouchers for their pay will not be allowed."

Grim future: At the request of one member of the Elgin City Council, the corporation counsel was asked to draft an ordinance regulating "fortune tellers," "clairvoyants" and "palmists" in the city.

"We have had enough of them," said the mayor. "We ought to control these people in Elgin."

The regulations were delayed after the city attorney expressed reservations about the legalities of such restrictions.

Playground time: Fun would be easier to come by in Elgin's parks if a new city council member's plans were put in place.

"I firmly believe that it would be a welcome action if Wing Park were readily converted into a playground," said a city commissioner who got his idea at a statewide convention.

Swings and croquet sets would be included for the children, while tennis, basketball courts, handball courts, and baseball diamonds would be built for adults.

Emancipation celebration: Over 500 area residents, mostly African-Americans, gathered at Lords Park on the city's east side for the 48th annual Emancipation Proclamation celebration.

Held to commemorate the September 1862 announcement by Lincoln to free the slaves, the Elgin event -- sponsored by the Second Baptist Church -- included the roasting of a cow, two sheep, and a pig. Music and speeches, including one by a local congressman were followed by a formal dance at a downtown hall in the evening.

Two-year high school: A two-year high school education is better suited to some students, explained Elgin school officials after instituting various business and industrial offerings.

The business classes -- available to these students -- consisted of accounting, stenography and typewriting. The industrial classes included "manual training" for the boys and "cooking" and "sewing" for the girls.

The school district later credited the two-year program with helping some students take a greater interest in school and remain to become four-year graduates.

Halloween trouble: Finally, a major showing of police strength likely contributed to one of the quietest Halloweens on record.

A force of 130 men, two mounted officers, and two automobiles put in place by the police chief patrolled the city streets throughout the evening. Offenders were warned that anyone caught doing any damage would be fined and ordered to do restitution.

Most youth were content to limit their mischief to using straws to shoot beans at windows or using "tick-tacks" -- devices made with notched spools -- to rattle window panes.

Several boys, who were arrested on charges of tipping over outhouses, were fined $1 each and ordered to upright the structures.

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