Originally published in The Rock River Times. Sledding has been a past time for children for many generations.  During the late 1800s one of the areas that offered this activity was Rockford’s southwest side on Knowlton Street.  At that time, Knowlton Street ran all the way down to the Rock River.  The river was narrow …

The lighting of the Christmas tree during ‘Stroll on State’ is the official start to Rockford’s Holiday Season.  This event brings the holidays to life for thousands through displays of lights, good food, and markets to shop.  Entire families brave all kinds of weather to see the lighting of the tree and share in the celebration.

The events that took place on November 7, 1948 happened so quickly that witnesses would find it difficult to remember the exact sequence.  There were other details that were abundantly clear, however.  When it was all over and the smoke had cleared, two men lay dead and a young woman was missing.

John Travis served in the Rockford Rifles as a part of the Illinois 45th Regiment.  It was Travis’s job as the Commissary Sergeant to make sure the soldiers had enough rations and supplies.  But Travis took his job further and would run food and coffee to the men on the front lines.  He also assisted in the dangerous job of pulling the injured from the battlefield.

The distinctive limestone house that sits on the west bank of the Rock River is best known today for being a part of the Burpee Museum of Natural History.  The museum is a gem itself and is a must see for visitors and locals alike.

Sometimes while digging through old newspapers stories I come across strange little tidbits of history that surprise even me.  This is one such story.

It takes place in the small village of Cherry Valley.  Cherry Valley was first settled in 1835 and named Grigg’s Mill after settler Joseph Grigg built a mill on the Kishwaukee River.

The third ward of Rockford was a bustling place in 1885.  People came and went at all hours of the night and day.  Things changed for the folks of the ward during the fall of 1885.  Incidents began to occur which had people so frightened they were reluctant to leave their homes after dark.

There is a saying that life can change in an instant.  This story is definite proof of that.  In 1972, Charles J. Williams must have felt that he was a lucky man.  Just 28-years-old, he was married to a lovely woman named Mary and had two children; Suzanne Marie, who was 2-and-a-half years old, and Jeffrey Allen, who was just 6 months old.

At first no one paid much attention to the loud voices coming from the apartment on the southwest side of Rockford on February 3, 1929.  The young couple who lived in the upstairs of the house on Wall Street fought quite frequently.

It seems that many people in Rockford knew of Elisha Dunn.  But they differed in their opinions about him.  Some saw him as a healer, a medical doctor who saved lives.  Others labeled him an eccentric man who once thought himself a psychic.  Many others, less kind, called him a fraud, swindler, and a liar.

George Laurs was a 24-year-old immigrant who like many men in 1913, came to Rockford to look for employment.  He considered himself very lucky when he was hired by the Cyclone Blow Company from Chicago to assist in the installation of a giant blow pipe on the third floor of a furniture factory.

The sounds of long-forgotten music are heard in the halls of a home on Rockford’s west side.  The house was built on the Rock River in 1893 by W.F. Barnes for his family.

The music has been heard by several employees of the Burpee Natural History Museum who now owns the building


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