Tidbits of the Past

History is full of significant events and important people that change the course of events for better or worse. But more often than not, history is created and affected by little changes over time, through the day-to-day lives of ordinary people. One of my favorite books in the Local History & Genealogy Room at the Ida Public Library is a great example of this point. The book is titled Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois & History of Boone County and was published in 1909 in two volumes. The second volume contains a fascinating history of Boone County, biographies of local dignitaries, and photographs of people and places. But the best part of the volume is the “Local Chronology,” pages of local tidbits in chronological order from 1865 through 1909 that were drawn from the Belvidere Standard newspaper files. You never know what you might find:

  • In 1869, Belvidere residents were instructed to trim the lower branches of their shade trees “not leaving it to the cows to chew them off.”
  • The Fourth of July celebrations in 1873 were marked by a ball at Union Hall, with over 500 couples in attendance.
  • Dr. Briggs purchased J.W. Warren’s drug store in Poplar Grove in 1880.
  • 1871 was a plentiful year for cherries, apples, and strawberries.
  • On September 6, 1879, the Belvidere Anti-Horse Thief Association was organized.
  • $400.00 in cash and $900.00 in stamps were stolen from the post office on December 5, 1881.
  • Croquet was the “principal amusement of the men” in the summer of 1873.
  • Howe’s circus came to Belvidere in May 1865.
  • And four prisoners escaped the county jail on November 1, 1869 by “sawing out the upper portion of one of the bars.”

The past is a fascinating place and it is the small local details like these which make it so captivating and exciting.

Newspapers are another wonderful resource to discover what daily life was like in the past. Ida Public Library is excited to announce that two Belvidere papers- the Belvidere Standard from 1851-1899 and the Belvidere Daily Republican from 1900-1977- will be available on subscription site Newspapers.com for anyone to use from home or here at the library. Enjoy researching these little tidbits of the past!



  1. Jean Lythgoe


    I can’t wait until you have those available. It will give me a good reason to stop over and visit. I’m really enjoying all the different stories.

    • Jean, I’m looking forward to it too! And any excuse to visit with you will be welcome.

      It is fun to read all of the stories everyone posts- I always learn something new!

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