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LOCAL AREA HISTORY

The Coles County history back several centuries. Native Americans lived in the Charleston area for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. With the great tallgrass prairie to the west, beech-maple forests to the east, and the Embarras and Wabash Rivers between, the Charleston area provided semi-nomadic Native Americans access to a variety of resources. Indians may have deliberately set the "wildfires" which maintained the local mosaic of prairie and oak–hickory forest. Streams with names like Indian Creek and Kickapoo Creek mark the sites of former Native settlements. One village is said to have been located south of Fox Ridge State Park near a deposit of flint.

The early history of European settlement in the area was marked by uneasy co-existence between Native Americans and European settlers. Some settlers lived peacefully with the natives. But in the 1810s and 1820s, after Native Americans allegedly harassed surveying crews, an escalating series of poorly documented skirmishes occurred between Native Americans, settlers, and militias known as the Illinois Rangers. Two pitched battles (complete with cannon on one side) occurred just south of Charleston along "the hills of the Embarras," near the entrance to modern Lake Charleston park. These conflicts did not slow European settlement. Native American history in Coles County effectively ended when all natives were expelled by law from Illinois after the 1832 Black Hawk War. With the grudging exception of Indian wives, the last natives were driven out by the 1840s.

Coles County was named after Edward Coles (December 15, 1786July 7, 1868) was governor of Illinois, serving from 1822 to 1826. He was born in 1786 in Albermarle County, Virginia and died in 1868 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His brother-in-law was John Rutherford, who served as governor of Virginia

Larger cities include.....

Mattoon, Illinois

Mattoon is a city located in Coles County, Illinois. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 18,291. Mattoon may be best known today for the Mad Gasser attacks of the 1940s.

[

Early settlers from the South lived in forested areas along the headwaters of the Little Wabash River to the southwest of the present town. They distrusted the prairie, which they saw as the source of fevers.

The history of Mattoon is tied to that of local railroads. In 1853, railroad surveyors from the Illinois Central Railroad and Terre Haute and Alton Railroad found their railroads would cross in the Mattoon area, and a burst of investment and land speculation began. The two railroads raced to the meeting point, on the understanding that the first to arrive would not have to pay to maintain the crossing. Local settlers marked out the plots for sale with pegs, and the village was originally known as "Pegtown."

In 1861, the town was officially named after William B. Mattoon, the chief construction engineer working for the Terre Haute and Alton Railroad. The reason for this honor is unclear; some say he won the naming rights because his rail crew arrived first. Others say he beat other claimants in a card game, or that Pegtown residents hoped the wealthy Mattoon would invest in the town if they named it after him. With its combination of excellent transportation and remarkably fertile prairie soils, Mattoon expanded rapidly. By the dawn of the 20th century, Mattoon's growing population and rail access brought manufacturing and industry.

On the night before the Lincoln-Douglas debate of September 18, 1858, at the Coles County Fairgrounds, both Lincoln and Douglas had slept in nearby Mattoon, [1],[2]. On June 17, 1861, General Ulysses S. Grant took his first post of the American Civil War when he assumed command of the 21st Illinois Infantry in Mattoon.

In 1865, Amish settlers began a community to the north near Arthur, IL. Amish farmstands and horse-drawn buggies are not uncommon sights in the northern part of Mattoon today.

In the 1890s, Mattoon lead the successful campaign to have a proposed college in eastern Illinois located in Coles County. The citizens were chagrined when neighboring Charleston was chosen as the home of the future Eastern Illinois University instead.

Mattoon has a strong tradition of baseball. The town was home to several minor-league teams in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and still has a thriving junior league. The last stadium, with a capacity of approximately 2,000 seats, was torn down in the late 1950s.

Mattoon, IL is also the home of the Soybean Museum. It is the largest collection of soybean hybrids in the United States under one roof

]

 

Arland Williams, Jr.

Mattoon was the hometown of Arland D. Williams Jr., a 46-year old bank examiner with the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta, Georgia. On January 13, 1982, he was one of only six survivors aboard when Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the ice-chocked Potomac River in Washington, DC. Bystanders, news media, and rescue personnel on the bridge and shore were helpless to reach the survivors. The only mode of rescue was a U.S. Park Police helicopter which arrived about 20 minutes after the crash.

As a rescue helicopter hovered overhead, Mr. Williams repeatedly grabbed hold of the swaying lifeline and selflessly passed it to other survivors clinging to the wreckage. It is doubtful whether any of the other victims could have been rescued without Mr. Williams' help. However, by the time the helicopter returned on a final trip to rescue him, he had already drowned.

Williams was posthumously awarded the United States Coast Guard's Gold Lifesaving Medal by President Ronald Reagan. An important bridge was renamed for him, and The Citadel established several memorials. The new Arland D. Williams Jr. Elementary School in Mattoon was dedicated to his memory in August, 2003.

 

Arland D. Williams Jr. Elementary School

Arland D. Williams Jr. Elementary School is located in the city of Mattoon in Coles County, Illinois. The new school in Mattoon Community School District #2 was dedicated to the memory of Arland D. Williams Jr. (1935-1982) when it was opened in August 2003.

 

Recent history and current issues

In 1940, the discovery of petroleum reserves in the countryside immediately surrounding Mattoon led to a small "oil boom" in the 1940s and 1950s, bringing with it economic benefits and increased civic pride. Oil extraction continues to be an important economic activity.

In 1966, Lake Land College was built just south of the city. The community college offers degrees for immediate employment and pre-university education.

After the arrival of the Lender's Bagel factory in 1986, Mattoon became the self-declared "Bagel Capital of the World." The town is also home to the world's largest bagel and an annual summer event called "Bagelfest." Traditionally a bastion of manufacturing, Mattoon has been challenged by the loss of several major plants in the last two decades.

The Illinois Central Station in the heart of downtown Mattoon is badly decaying, and local activists have sought funding for years to restore it. 2.5 million dollars were obtained for it via the 2005 Transportation Bill. The station and the Illinois Central Line tracks are still used by Amtrak's Illini train and by the famous train City of New Orleans. Today the station is unmanned; passengers boarding at the Mattoon station must order their tickets by telephone or online.

Transportation is still a vital part of local economic life. Much of the major commercial development in recent years has occurred along Interstate 57, which crosses the eastern edge of Mattoon.

Geography

Mattoon is located at 39°28'44" North, 88°22'23" West (39.478850, -88.373086)GR1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.1 km² (9.3 mi²). 24.1 km² (9.3 mi²) of it is land and none of it is covered by water. Nearby rivers have been dammed to form Lake Paradise and Lake Mattoon south of the city.

The terminal moraine of the Wisconsin Glacier is located just to the south of Mattoon. Heading south on I-57 there is an impressive vista from the top of the moraine at the south Mattoon exit. While the moraine is of Wisconsinan age (about 10,000 years before present), the land to the south is of Illinoian age (about 100,000 years before present). The small oil field to the south of the moraine is also attributed to glacial activity: The weight of the glacier to the north created cracks in the underlying bedrock. Oil collected adjacent to these cracks.

Demographics

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 18,291 people, 8,105 households, and 4,676 families residing in the city. The population density was 758.6/km² (1,964.8/mi²). There were 8,830 housing units at an average density of 366.2/km² (948.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.64% White, 1.42% African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.41% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. 1.27% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 8,105 households out of which 26.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.3% were non-families. 35.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.3% under the age of 18, 11.3% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 89.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,800, and the median income for a family was $43,780. Males had a median income of $32,339 versus $21,949 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,186. 13.4% of the population and 7.6% of families were below the poverty line. 15.5% of those under the age of 18 and 10.0% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

External links

Charleston, Illinois

For the Illinois village once known as Charleston, see Brimfield, Illinois.

Charleston is the county seat of Coles County, IllinoisGR6. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 21,039. The city is home to Eastern Illinois University and has close ties with its neighbor Mattoon, Illinois.

Native American and Pioneer History

Native Americans lived in the Charleston area for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. With the great tallgrass prairie to the west, beech-maple forests to the east, and the Embarras and Wabash Rivers between, the Charleston area provided semi-nomadic Native Americans access to a variety of resources. Indians may have deliberately set the "wildfires" which maintained the local mosaic of prairie and oak–hickory forest. Streams with names like Indian Creek and Kickapoo Creek mark the sites of former Native settlements. One village is said to have been located south of Fox Ridge State Park near a deposit of flint.

The early history of European settlement in the area was marked by uneasy co-existence between Native Americans and European settlers. Some settlers lived peacefully with the natives. But in the 1810s and 1820s, after Native Americans allegedly harassed surveying crews, an escalating series of poorly documented skirmishes occurred between Native Americans, settlers, and militias known as the Illinois Rangers. Two pitched battles (complete with cannon on one side) occurred just south of Charleston along "the hills of the Embarras," near the entrance to modern Lake Charleston park. These conflicts did not slow European settlement. Native American history in Coles County effectively ended when all natives were expelled by law from Illinois after the 1832 Black Hawk War. With the grudging exception of Indian wives, the last natives were driven out by the 1840s.

Post-Settlement History

Charleston was named after city founder name Charles Morton and was a combination of both of his names. The city was established in 1831, but not incorporated until 1865. When Abraham Lincoln's father moved to a farm on Goosenest Prairie south of Charleston in 1831, Abe helped him move, then left to start his own homestead at New Salem in Sangamon County. Abe was a frequent visitor to the Charleston area, though he likely spent more time at the Coles County courthouse than at the home of his father and stepmother. One of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates was held in Charleston. Lincoln's last visit was in 1859, when the President-elect visited his stepmother and his father's grave before setting out for Washington D.C..

Although Illinois was a solidly pro-Union, anti-slavery state, Coles County was settled by many Southerners with pro-slavery sentiments. In 1847, the county was divided when prominent local citizens offered refuge to a family of escaped slaves brought from Kentucky by Gen. Robert Matson. Abe Lincoln himself appeared in the Coles County courthouse to argue for the return of the escaped slaves under the Fugitive Slave Act in a case known as Matson v. Ashmore. As in the rest of the nation, this long-simmering debate finally broke out into violence during the American Civil War. On March 28, 1864 a riot—or perhaps a small battle—erupted in downtown Charleston when armed Confederate sympathizers known as Copperheads arrived in town to attack half-drunk Union soldiers preparing to return to their regiment. Newspaper accounts at the time said the Copperheads stated intention was to burn the town and "cut out the hearts of the 'd__ed abolitionists.'" Even the county sherriff is alleged to have fired on the soldiers. By the time the "Copperhead Riot" had ended, nine were dead and twelve had been wounded, mostly Copperheads.

In 1895 the Eastern Illinois State Normal School was established in Charleston, which later became Eastern Illinois University. This led to lasting resentment in nearby Mattoon, which had originally lead the campaign to locate the proposed teaching school in Coles County. A Mattoon newspaper printed a special edition announcing the decision with the derisive headline "Catfish Town Gets It."

Thomas Lincoln's log cabin has been restored and is open to the public as the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, 8 mi. south of Charleston. The Lincoln farm is maintained as a living museum of life in 1840’s Illinois by historical re-enactors. Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln are buried in the nearby Shiloh Cemetery. Charleston was the hometown of Citizen Kane cinematographer Gregg Toland.

 

Charleston Today

Modern Charleston is dominated by Eastern Illinois University, which employs almost 2000 full-time faculty and staff and has 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The establishment of an enterprise zone on the northern edge of Charleston has helped attract some manufacturing and industrial jobs.

Charleston's city motto is "the friendly city."

Since 1990, Charleston High School has grown into a power in Illinois high school soccer. The Charleston Trojans boys soccer team reached their climax of success by reaching the state tournament three times from 2000-2004. Paul Stranz has been head coach of the Trojans since 2000.

Jim Edgar, governor of Illinois from 1990 to 1998, was raised in Charleston and graduated from Eastern Illinois University

 

Geography

Charleston is located at 39°29'19" North, 88°10'44" West (39.488721, -88.178976)GR1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.5 km² (8.7 mi²). 20.7 km² (8.0 mi²) of it is land and 1.8 km² (0.7 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 7.84% water.

 

Demographics

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 21,039 people, 7,672 households, and 3,329 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,016.7/km² (2,632.2/mi²). There were 8,148 housing units at an average density of 393.7/km² (1,019.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.50% White, 4.25% African American, 0.24% Native American, 1.34% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 0.50% from other races, and 1.08% from two or more races. 1.76% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 7,672 households out of which 20.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.9% were married couples living together, 7.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 56.6% were non-families. 34.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the city the population was spread out with 13.8% under the age of 18, 44.1% from 18 to 24, 18.7% from 25 to 44, 13.7% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years. For every 100 females there were 86.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,140, and the median income for a family was $44,312. Males had a median income of $30,906 versus $21,822 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,522. 30.1% of the population and 10.3% of families were below the poverty line. 8.7% of those under the age of 18 and 11.8% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

These figures may be somewhat skewed as 10,000 residents of Charleston are students at Eastern Illinois University, many of whom have their primary place of residence in other cities though they spend nine months of the year in Charleston.

External links

 

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Metasyntactic variable".

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