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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Boone County Sweet Treats

When the heat index increases, visions of chocolate malts, root beer floats, and ice cream cones start dancing in our brains. Over the years, finding a sweet treat in Boone County has never been too difficult. One of the best-remembered sweet stops in Belvidere was Knapp’s Coffee Shop. Many Belvidere residents fondly recall the sandwiches, coffee, signature malt shakes, and great conversation served up at Knapp’s. Opened during the worst of the Great Depression in 1931, Doc and his wife Irene served Belvidere at their South State Street...

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A Belvidere 4th of July, 1865

July 4, 1865 was the scene of a triumphant celebration in Belvidere. The Civil War had just ended in April, with victory for the North; Belvidere, like many other cities, was full of jubilant patriotism and pride for its soldiers. The festivities that day were ones to remember. According to the newspaper, between 5,000 and 6,000 people were present for the day’s activities, so many that most had to sit on the ground (and even up in trees!) during the main program. The celebration started with a parade, which featured a wagon of young ladies...

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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...

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Ethel Veva King: A Belvidere Poet

Ah, Valentine’s Day. You may love it or you may hate it but you can’t deny it is everywhere. At this time of year, it seems the world is full of flowers, candy, hearts, and poetry. Whether it’s a Shakespearean sonnet or Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee?,” good poetry is one of my favorite parts of the holiday. There are so many great poets out there: e.e. cummings, Maya Angelou, Edgar Allen Poe. But did you know that Belvidere was also the home of a poetess during the early 1900s? Her name was Ethel Veva King and her poems...

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