Editor and historian for Monmouth College. Avid researcher of western Illinois history for 40 years. FB and Twitter. jrankin@monmouthcollege.edu
The 1856 litho portrait of 30-year-old David Wallace (left) stands in contrast to the image most Monmouth alumni remember of the College’s first president, painted in 1878. Years of hard work prematurely aged the once vigorous pastor, who died nearly an invalid at age 57.

MONMOUTH, Ill. — The name David Alexander Wallace is legendary at Monmouth College, in no small part because its flagship building — now 112 years old — was dedicated in his honor. Many Monmouth graduates retain a visual image of the College’s first president from the formal oil painting commissioned…

Meredith Willson in a publicity photo from about the time he appeared at Monmouth College.

MONMOUTH, Ill. — In Meredith Willson’s The Music Man, Professor Harold Hill recounts to the people of River City the “electric thrill” he enjoyed when W. C. Handy, John Philip Sousa and four other legendary band leaders brought “the cream of every famous band” together on the same historic day.

Zimmerman’s original Monmouth barbershop was located beneath the old Monmouth National Bank, now the site of City Hall

MONMOUTH, Ill. — If the internet had existed in 1890, Oscar Zimmerman likely would have started the first shave club for men.

Born in 1855 in Chicago to a Prussian-born liquor merchant, the talented tonsorial artist had come to Monmouth as a young man, where he apprenticed under Morris Scheibel…

Stunned, sad and scared, Monmouth College students attend an impromptu convocation in the chapel on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

MONMOUTH, Ill. — When the news of Sept. 11, 2001, reached Monmouth College one would imagine the College’s president calling an immediate cabinet meeting to plan strategy. But life is never that predictable.

Instead, then-President Richard Giese was on Interstate 80, driving to a meeting of Associated Colleges of the…

Original Olmstead’s mill bridge, looking west. Photographer Paul Kobler took this photo for the Warren County Highway Department in 1940. It was replaced by an open steel bridge shortly thereafter.

MONMOUTH, Ill. — People love a good ghost story and are seemingly always eager to embrace tales of legendary local hauntings, regardless of corroborating evidence.

Every year — particularly around Halloween — I receive inquiries about a site near Monmouth that is legendary in local lore for alleged supernatural occurrences…

An early photo of the Rev. Meneilly in the pulpit of Village Church. (Image courtesy of Village Church)

Monmouth College alumnus built nation’s second-largest Presbyterian church from scratch

MONMOUTH, Ill. — In 1965, when the Rev. Robert Meneilly ’45 delivered several sermons calling for the integration of largely white suburbs around Kansas City, Kan., it made front-page news and raised a firestorm of controversy. …

Calvin Bryce Hoover as a senior at Monmouth College in 1922, and as a renowned Duke University economist in the 1960s

MONMOUTH, Ill. — It seems improbable that a humble farm boy from Berwick, Ill., would become one of the world’s leading economists, help the Allies defeat Hitler and be awarded the Medal of Freedom, but those are only a handful of the accomplishments of Calvin Bryce Hoover.

Born to a…

Alice Tinkham boards the Cannon Ball bus at Kirkwood in 1927, en route to Monmouth College.

MONMOUTH, Ill. — Beginning in 1906, the interurban electric railway allowed Monmouth residents to travel conveniently and inexpensively between nearby cities. Even after automobiles became more numerous during the 1910s, the interurban remained popular because paved roads remained scarce.

That would change by the 1920s, when the Good Roads Movement…

In this cracked glass-plate photograph, prisoners enjoy a Fourth of July celebration in the yard at Joliet, not long after McClaughry spoke at Monmouth.

MONMOUTH, Ill. — I have written previously about Maj. Robert Wilson McClaughry, the pioneer prison reformer who graduated from Monmouth College in 1861 and for a time lived in Monmouth. …

Jeff Rankin

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