Rockford has been fortunate to have many men and women whose names have put the Forest City on the map.  One of these extraordinary people, named Sammy Mandell, came to light in the 1920s and ’30s.  Though most people won’t recognize the name, Sammy was once the Boxing Lightweight Champion of the World.

When a woman’s body was found floating face down in the Rock River on July 6, 1925, the police realized they faced many challenges.  There was no identification on the body and there were no witnesses to what might have happened to the young woman.  Her long dark skirt was badly torn and when they turned her over to remove her from the water, they noticed that her mouth and nose were filled with mud from the bottom of the river.  

It had been a good day that Sunday, August 13, 1933.  Forty-one-year-old Earl Hanson had enjoyed the day with his 12-year-old daughter, June.  They attended church services and went to the theater.  Earl headed north on Main Street to take June back to her mother’s home at about nine o’ clock in the evening.

Isaiah and William Donley were two brothers that moved to Rockford in 1865 with their family.  They were born in Palmyra, Missouri and as the newspaper from 1890 stated, “born into bondage”.  The family members were slaves prior to the Civil War.

The evening of April 28, 1909 was initially discussed because of the storm that swept over the area.  Folks in the village of Winnebago would remember exactly where they were that evening because of the fierce thunderstorm that brought almost continuous lightning and torrential rains.

George Jacob Schweinfurth was born in 1853 in Marion, Ohio.  He had a typical childhood though his mother would later claim that she knew from the day he was born that God had a special plan for her son.

That special plan would eventually involve hundreds of followers, numerous scandals, and a 600 acre farm named Mount Zion

The Illinois Cottage was opened in August of 1918.  The old Lindsey Home, located on Kent Street was acquired through the Illinois Federation of Women’s Club with assistance of the Spafford family.  Its purpose was to aid single women who came from other communities while they searched for employment or girls who were found after curfew.

Everyone who knew Svea Olson said she had chosen the right career.  Svea was in her second year at St. Anthony’s School of Nursing.  Her roommate and patients all stated that Svea’s natural cheerfulness brightened up whatever room she entered.

“Please be assured that a continuing search by land, sea, and air is being made to discover the whereabouts of our missing personnel.  As our armies advance over enemy occupied territory, special troops are assigned to this task, and all agencies of the government in every country are constantly sending in details which aid us in bringing additional information to you.”

The news that awaited Maude M. Stuart when she arrived in Rockford from Chicago was devastating.  The doctors that were treating her fiancé Harry Wellman were not optimistic about his survival. Maude and Harry were supposed to be married on Christmas Eve in 1901 but doctors now feared that family members would be attending Harry’s funeral instead of his wedding.

Fairgrounds Park was formed on land purchased around 1858 and was used for a variety of activities including a place to host the annual fair.
During the summer of 1896, the Fairgrounds Park made the newspapers for something other than agriculture

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