David D. Alling, Part 1;Came to Rockford in the morning; had a job by afternoon

David D. Alling was one of the early settlers in Rockford. He was born April 27, 1813 in Westfield, CT. At the age of 17, he apprenticed as a carpenter. On May 29, 1836, in New Haven, CT., he married Rebecca Botsford (born Dec. 27, 1813 in Derry, CT.) In September 1837, they started west on what became a difficult journey. They began by taking a steamer from New Haven, CT to New York, then Albany, NY, by boat, and then to Buffalo, NY, via the “raging canal.” After many delays, they arrived in Chicago, which was a collection of...

read more

Made in Rockford: J. L. Clark products

With the current interest in the sale of J. L. Clark by CLARCOR to CC industries, an affiliate of Chicago-based Henry Crown and Co., here’s some information about their products over time. In 1900, John Lewis Clark had a hardware store, and patented an improved flue stopper, the Gem Flue Stopper. He spent $70 for equipment–$45 for dies and $25 for a secondhand foot-powered punch press. Because he was dissatisfied with the current lithography available at the time, the company began to do its own. After punching out the flue...

read more

Rockford’s Courthouses

Rockford’s first court session  was held in the home of Daniel S. Haight on October 6, 1837. Haight was the sheriff and much of the county’s business took place in his home until the next year when a frame building was constructed to hold the Circuit Court. By 1874 the courthouse was too small and the city looked for an architect to design a new structure. Henry L. Gay of Chicago was chosen for the $165,000 project, and construction began. On May 11, 1877, with the new building close to complete, disaster struck. The 500 ton dome...

read more

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...

read more

(re) introducing the Swedes of Rockford

Since 1852, Swedes have made their impact on the Rockford region. These entrepreneurial folks built companies, established banks, insurance companies, served others and kept connections with their roots. In 1938, with others that wanted to celebrate the establishment of New Sweden in Delaware, Herman G. Nelson of Rockford, represented our region as a stronghold of Swedish immigrants. Returning to Rockford, he assisted in chartering the Swedish Historical Society of Rockford. The mission of the Society is to preserve the culture and history of...

read more