Harriet Tucker

Harriet Tucker was born June 30, 1834 in Kentucky as a slave. As a young girl, she refused to be sold as a slave, and jumped off the auction block. The children of the man who purchased her taught her to read and write (at a time when slaves were not permitted to learn to read.) Sje was proud that she could read her Bible. After the Civil War, the Tucker family came to Rockford. She lived at the corner of Greenmount and Prospect Streets in northeast Rockford. In addition to the house, the property included a barn and chicken coop. Mrs. Tucker...

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Anna Williams–her civil rights

Mrs. Anna Williams lived in Rockford, and in 1869, purchased a train ticket to go from Rockford to Belvidere. She purchased a first class ticket for the Ladies Car.  The Ladies’ Car kept women–and some gentlemen–apart from travelers who were either drinking, or profane, or less refined. Mrs. Williams, an African-American, was refused admittance by the brakeman, who told her she could ride in the men’s  car, even though she had purchased a first class ticket. By October 1869, Mrs. Williams had brought a legal suit...

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Hezekiah Ford Douglass, African-American orator

Hezekiah Ford Douglass was born a slave about 1831, in Rockbridge County, Virginia. In the late 1840s he escaped from Louisiana and came north. He was a great admirer of Frederick Douglass, with whom he often lectured, and took the same spelling of his last name in honor of him. “One contemporary described him as having ‘a physique so noble and a presence so attractive as to charm and interest the listener at once.’” (Roger D. Cunningham) On February 9th and 10th, 1859, both Frederick Douglass and H. Ford Douglass spoke in Rockford to...

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Dams in Rockford, part2

By September 1851, the Rockford Forum was reporting that a new company had been formed, with capital of $10,000. The new dam would be built on the ford which gave Rockford its name.  The Forum reported that it was to be built ” with two walls of solid timber-work twelve inches thick, twelve feet apart, extending across the river…tied together, and the spaces filled with loose stone…seven feet high.” (Sept. 3, 1851). In November 1852, the Rock River Democrat reported that the river was 800 feet wide where the dam was...

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Dams in Rockford, part 1

In 1841, early citizens of Rockford wanted to harness the power of the river.  February 28, 1843, the Rockford Hyraulic and Manufacturing Company was incorporated to build the first dam across the river. This first dam was located about where the Jefferson Street Bridge is today. In his Reminiscences…of Early Days in Rockford, John H. Thurston said, “On the east side at the location of the dam, the water for two-thirds the width of the stream, was about waist deep in summer, with eight to nine feet in the channel…Had it been...

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