Chronology:Illinois

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1818c.5 English Immigrants from Surrey Take Cricket to IL

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Cricket

"There have been [p.295/p.296] several cricket-matches this summer [of 1819], both at Wanborough and Birk Prarie; the Americans seem much pleased at the sight of the game, as it is new to them." John Woods, Two Years Residence on th Settlement of the English Prarie, in the Illinois Country (Longman & Co., London, 1822), pp. 295-296.

On page 148 of the book: "On the second of October, there was a game of cricket played at Wanborough by the young men of the settlement; this they called keeping Catherine Hill fair, many of the players being from the neighborhood of Godalming and Guildford." In 1818 [page 295]: "some of the young men were gone to a county court at Palmyra, [but] there was no cricket-match, as was intended, only a game of trap-ball."

Circa
1818
Item
1818c.5
Edit

1820s.5 Town Ball Recalled in Eastern IL

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Town Ball

"In the early times, fifty or sixty years ago, when the modern games of croquet and base-ball were unknown, the people used to amuse themselves with marbles, "town-ball" - which was base-ball in a rude state - and other simple pastimes of a like character. Col. Mayo says, the first amusement he remembers in the county was a game of town-ball, on the day of the public sale of lots in Paris, in which many of the "young men of the period engaged."

The History of Edgar County, Illinois (Wm. LeBaron, Chicago, 1879), page 273. Contributed January 31, 2010, by Jeff Kittel. Paris IL is near the Indiana border, and about 80 miles west of Indianapolis.

Decade
1820s
Item
1820s.5
Edit

1820s.23 Town Ball Came to Central IL in the 1820s.

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Town Ball

"This game [bullpen, the local favorite] was, in time, abandoned for a game called "town ball;" the present base ball being town ball reduced to a science."

The History of Menard and Mason Counties, Illinois (Baskin and Company, Chicago, 1879), page 252. Contributed by Jeff Kittel, January 31, 2010. Jeff notes that the author was in this passage describing educational conditions in the early 1820s. The two counties are just north of Springfield IL.

Decade
1820s
Item
1820s.23
Edit

1830s.11 In MO, the Slowly Migrating Mormons Play Ball

Location:

Illinois

"Ball was a favorite sport with the men, and the Prophet frequently took a hand in the sport."

John Doyle Lee, Confessions of John D. Lee: Mormonism Unveiled [1877], Chapter 8.

Submitted by John Thorn, 8/17/2004 supplemented 2/22/2006. Note: Are we sure that "1830s" is the right date here? The text may imply a later date.

Decade
1830s
Item
1830s.11
Edit

1830s.16 Future President Plays Town Ball, Joins Hopping Contests

Tags:

Famous

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Town Ball

James Gurley knew Abraham Lincoln from 1834, when Lincoln was 25. In 1866 he gave an informal interview to William Herndon, the late President's biographer and former law partner in Springfield IL. His 1866 recollection:

"We played the old-fashioned game of town ball - jumped - ran - fought and danced. Lincoln played town ball - he hopped well - in 3 hops he would go 40.2 [feet?] on a dead level. . . . He was a good player - could catch a ball." Source - a limited online version of the 1997 book edited by Douglas L Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, Herndon's Informants (U of Illinois Press, 1997 or 1998). Posted to 19CBB on 12/11/2007 by Richard Hershberger. Richard notes that the index to the book promises several other references to Lincoln's ballplaying but [Jan. 2008] reports that the ones he has found are unspecific.. Note: can we chase this book down and collect those references?

The previous Protoball entry listed as #1840s.16: "He [Abraham Lincoln in the 1840s] joined with gusto in outdoor sports foot-races, jumping and hopping contests, town ball, wrestling"

Beveridge, Albert J., Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1858. [Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1928]. Volume I, page 298. .The author provides source for this info as: "James Gourley's" statement, later established as 1866. Weik MSS. Per John Thorn, 7/9/04.

Decade
1830s
Item
1830s.16
Edit

1830s.23 In South-Central Illinois, Teachers Joined in On Town Ball

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Town Ball

"The bull pen, town ball, and drop the handkerchief were among the sports indulged in on the school grounds, and the teacher usually joined in with the sports."

A. T. Strange, ed., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, Volume 2 (Munsell, Chicago, 1918), page 792. Contributed by Jeff Kittel, January 31, 2010. Accessed 2/5/10 via Google Books search ("town ball and drop). Jeff's comments: "The author is talking about the history of education in Montgomery County, IL, which is located south of Springfield and NE of St. Louis. It's tough to date this. He speaks of '75 or 80 years ago,' so it's probably the 1830s and 1840s."

Decade
1830s
Item
1830s.23
Edit

1837.7 Canton Illinois Bans Sunday Cricket, Cat, Town-Ball, Etc.

Tags:

Bans

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Cricket

Section 36 of the Canton IL ordinance passed on 3/27/1837 said:

"any person who shall on the Sabbath day play at bandy, cricket, cat, town-ball, corner-ball, over-ball, fives, or any other game of ball, in any public place, shall . . . " [be fined one dollar].

http://www.illinoisancestors.org/fulton/1871_canton/pages95_126.html#firstincorporation, as accessed 1/1/2008. Information provided by David Nevard 6/11/2007. See also #1837.8, below. Canton IL is about 25 miles SW of Peoria.

On January 31, 2010, Jeff Kittel indicated that he has found the text in another source: History of Fulton County, Illinois (Chapman & Co., Peoria, 1879), pp 527-528. Accessed 2/6/10 via Google Books search ("history of fulton" 1879). Jeff, noting that the ban appeared just 37 days after Canton was incorporated, adds:

"It seems that they had a lively community of ballplayers in Fulton County. Obviously, if they're passing laws against the playing of ball, ball-playing is so widely prevalent, and there is such a variety of ball games being played, then pre-modern baseball had been played in the community for some time. It's fascinating that one of the first things they did, upon incorporation, was ban ball-playing on the Sabbath."

Year
1837
Item
1837.7
Edit

1837.8 Well, As Goes Canton, So Goes Indianapolis

Tags:

Bans

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Cricket

Section 34 of an Indianapolis IN ordinance said:

"Any person who shall on the Sabbath day play at cricket, bandy, cat, town ball, corner ball, or any other game of ball within the limits of the corporation, or shall engage in pitching quoits or dollars in any public place therein, shall on conviction pay the sum of one dollar for each offense."  [See the very similar #1837.7, above.] 

Richard pointed out in 2008 that these very similar regulations give us the earliest citation for the term "town ball" he knows of, but in 2014 he found the very similar 1834 prohibition on Springfield IL at 1834.9

Sources:

Indiana Journal, May 13, 1837.

Comment:

Note: A dollar fine for "pitching dollars?"

Year
1837
Item
1837.8
Edit

1840s.41 Town Ball Recalled in Central IL

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Town Ball

"Men had the hunt, the chase, the horse-race, foot-race, the jolly meetings at rude elections . . . pitching horseshoes - instead of quoits, town-ball and bull-pen."

James Haines, "Social Life and Scenes in the Early Settlement of Central Illinois," Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society for the Year 1905 (Illinois State Journal Co, Springfield, 1906), page 38. Contributed by Jeff Kittel, January 31, 2010. Accessed 2/9/10 via Google Books search ("quoits, town-ball and"). The author addressed local amusements before 1850.

Decade
1840s
Item
1840s.41
Edit

1840c.43 Lad in Southern Illinois Played Four Old Cat

Location:

Illinois

"We played marbles and we played a game of ball in which there were four corners, four batters, and four catchers, 'for old cat' as it was then called."

Fred Lockley, "Reminiscences of William H. Packwood," The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society Volume 16 (1915-1916), page 37. Accessed 2/9/10 via Google Books search ("william h. packwood"). Packwood was born in 1832 and as a boy lived in Sparta, IL, about 50 miles SE of St. Louis.

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.43
Edit

1846.9 Town Ball in Rockford IL

Tags:

Holidays

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Town Ball

"I came West 59 years ago, in 1846, and found "Town Ball" a popular game at all Town meetings. I do not recall an instance of a money bet on the game; but, at Town meeting, the side losing had to buy the ginger bread and cider." [July letter]

"[Town Ball] was so named because it was mostly played at "Town Meetings." It had as many players on a side as chose to play; but the principal players were "Thrower" and "Catcher." There were three bases and a home plate. The players were put out by being touched with ball [sic] or hit with thrown ball, when off the base. You can readily see that the present game [1900's baseball] is an evolution from Town Ball." [April letter]

Letters from H. H. Waldo, Rockford IL, to the Mills Commission, April 8 and July 7, 1905.

Year
1846
Item
1846.9
Edit

1850s.30 Town Ball Well Known in Illinois

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Town Ball

Age of Players:

Unknown

"Football and baseball, as played today [in 1918], were unknown games. What was known as townball, however, was a popular sport. This was played with a yarn ball covered with leather, or a hollow, inflated rubber ball, both of which were soft and yielding and not likely to inflict injury as is so common today in baseball. Townball was much played in the schoolhouse yard during recess and at the noon hour."

 

Sources:

Charles B. Johnson, Illinois in the Fifties (Flanigan-Pearson Co., Champaign IL, 1918), page 79. Contributed by Jeff Kittel, January 31, 2010. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search <"illinois in the fifties">. Jeff notes that, while describing Illinois pastimes generally, the author was from Pocahontas, IL, in southeast IL, about 50 miles east of St. Louis.

Decade
1850s
Item
1850s.30
Edit

1850s.31 Town Ball Played in Southeast MO

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Town Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The men found amusement . . . in such humble sports as marbles and pitching horseshoes. There were also certain athletic contests, and it was no uncommon thing for the men of the neighborhood to engage in wrestling and in the jumping match. This was before the day of baseball, but the men had a game, out of which baseball probably developed, which was called 'town ball.'"

 

Sources:

Robert S. Douglass, History of Southeast Missouri (Lewis Publishing, 1912), page 441. Contributed by Jeff Kittel, January 31, 2010. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (douglass southeast).

Warning:

Douglass is not explicit about the period referenced here, but that it is before the Civil War.

Comment:

Jeff notes that the author is covering small towns in Southeast MO located away from the Mississippi River and isolated from one another. 

Decade
1850s
Item
1850s.31
Edit

1851.4 Very Early Game in Illinois Involves Joliet, Lockport?

Location:

Illinois

Age of Players:

Adult

"There were well established teams throughout the state of Illinois as early as those of Chicago, if not earlier.  The Lockport Telegraph of August 6, 1851, tells of a game between the Hunkidoris of Joliet and the Sleepers of Lockport [IL]."

 

Sources:

Federal Writers' Project -- Illinois, Baseball in Old Chicago, (McClurg, 1939). page 1.  [From GBooks search for <"Joliet and the Sleepers">, 3/28/2013].

Warning:

This entry appears to be in error caused by a mistake in binding local newspapers, and the cited Telegraph article may have appears as late as 1880.

From a 5/24/2013 email to Protoball from Bruce Allardice: 

I've found proof that the 1939 WPA report on an 1851 game between Lockport and Joliet is incorrect. Below is what I've added to the Lockport entry in protoball:

 "The book "19th Century Baseball in Chicago" (Rucker and Fryer) p. 13 asserts that the Lockport Telegraph of Aug. 6, 1851 reported on a game between the Hunkidoris of Joliet and the Sleepers of Lockport. The book credits a 1939 WPA report on early Chicago area baseball for this.

The authors are correct in what the 1939 report said. However, the 1939 report was incorrect. I talked to the librarian at the Lockport Public Library who told me that the 8-6-51 issue of the Telegraph was mistakenly bound with a newspaper from many years later, and that the Hunkidoris game article is from a newspaper 30 years later."

I also looked at a microfilm copy of the 8-6-51 issue of the Lockport newspaper, and found no mention of baseball.

Too bad, If it had been true, it would have been the first verified baseball game outside the New York area.

The librarian (now retired, and volunteering at the Will County Historical Society) is familiar with the issue, but can't remember what newspaper or date the Hunkidori game was mentioned in.

 

Year
1851
Item
1851.4
Edit

1852.8 Adult Town Ball Seen in on a Sunday in IL

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Town Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"[N]ot a great while ago, [I] saw a number of grown men, on a Sabbath morning, playing town-ball."

"I grieve to say the stores all do business on the Sabbath.  We hope, by constantly showing the people their transgression, to break up this [commerce] , the source of so much other sin."

Sources:

Rev. E. B. Olmsted, The Home Missionary [Office of the American Home Missionary Society] Volume 24, Number 1 [May 1852], page 188.

Comment:

The location of the game was Cairo, Illinois.

Year
1852
Item
1852.8
Edit

1858.33 Earliest Games in Chicago IL?

Location:

Illinois

Age of Players:

Youth

[1]  "A match game was played yesterday [7/7/1858] afternoon between the Union Base Ball Club, of this city, and the Downer's grove Base Ball Club. . . . A spacious tent was erected on the Club's grounds, corner of West Harrison and Halstead Streets. The Downer's Grove Club came of (sic) victorious, the 'country boys' being excellent players."

[2] The Excelsior Club downed Union, 8/29/1858. The score was Excelsior 17, Union 11.

[3] Growth in Chicago was slow. Although its population was nearing 110,000 in 1860, it still had only four base ball clubs.

Sources:

[1]"Base Ball Match," Chicago Daily Press and Tribune, vol. 12 number 6 (Thursday, July 8, 1858), page 1 column 4. Posted to 19CBB on 9/11/2007 by Craig Waff.

[2]Chicago Daily Times and Tribune, September 1, 1858, page 1 column 4. Posted to 19CBB on 9/11/2007 by Craig Waff.

[3] Steven Freedman, "The Baseball Fad in Chicago, 1865-1870," Journal of Sport History, Volume 5 number 2 (Summer 1978), page 42.

Year
1858
Item
1858.33
Edit

1858.42 In Downstate Illinois, New Club Wins by 134 Rounds

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"BASEBALL IN ILLINOIS. - The Alton [IL] Base-Ball Club . . . a meeting was held on the evening of May 18, to organize a club . . . . The Upper Alton Base Ball Club . . . sent us a challenge, to play a match game, on Saturday, the 19th of June, which was accepted by our club; each side had five innings, and thirteen players each, with the following result: The Alton Base-Ball Club made 224 rounds. The Upper Alton Base-Ball Club made 90 rounds. Alton IL is a Mississippi River town 5 miles north of St. Louis. Missouri.

Sources:

." "Base-Ball", Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 4, number 20 (July 17, 1858), p. 309, columns. 2-3 

Year
1858
Item
1858.42
Edit

1858.58 First Chicago Club Forms

Location:

Illinois

Age of Players:

Adult

[A]  "A team called the Unions is said to have played in Chicago in 1856, but the earliest newspaper report of a game is found in the Chicago Daily Journal of August 17, 1858, which tells of a match game between the Unions and the Excelsiors to be playing on August 19.  A few other games ere mentioned during the same year."

[B] "Though baseball match games had been played in Illinois since the very early 1850's, the first Chicago Club, the Union, was not established until 1856."

[C] "There seems to be some doubt as to when the first baseball club was organized at Chicago, but it has been stated that a club called the Unions played town ball there in 1856."

[D] If these claims are discounted, modern base ball can dated in Chicago in 1858 when a convention of clubs takes place and the Knick rules are published. 

Sources:

[A] Edwina Guilfoil, et. al., Baseball in Old Chicago (Federal Writers' Project of Works Project Administration, 1939), unpaginated page 4.

[B] John R. Husman, "Ohio's First Baseball Game," Presented at the 34th SABR Convention, July 2004.

[C] Alfred Spink, The National Game (Southern Illinois Press, 2000 -- first edition 1910), page 63.

[D] "A Knickerbocker," Base Ball, Chicago Press and Tribune, July 9, 1858.

Warning:

None of these sources gives a reference to evidence of the 1856 formation of the Union Club, so we here rely on the documented reference to a planned 1858 game. 

Comment:

Jeff Kittel (email of 3/9/2013) notes that there is an August 1857 Chicago Tribune article on a cricket club called the Union Club; perhaps later memories confused the cricket or town ball clubs with a modern-rules base ball club? 

Jeff also notes that  "[A date of] late 1857/1858 fits the time frame for the spread of the game south and west of Chicago - into Western Iowa by 1858 and St. Louis by 1859, with hints that it's in central Illinois by 1859/60.  That spread pattern also fits the economic/cultural spread model that we've kicked around."  

 

Query:

Can we find any clear basis for the report of 1856 establishment of modern base ball? 

Year
1858
Item
1858.58
Edit

1858.61 IL "Base Ball and Wicket Club" Takes the Field

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Wicket

Age of Players:

Adult

  

Base Ball -- Ottawa vs. Marseilles

 

 "Some two weeks ago the Marseilles Base Ball Club challenged the Base Ball and Wicket Club of Ottawa to a trial of skill. - The challenge was promptly accepted, and Friday of last week fixed as the day and Marseilles the place for the game.  At the time appointed, although the weather was intensely hot, the game was played with great spirit, yet with the utmost good feeling throughout, on both sides...

 

  "J.H. Burlison, of Ottawa, and A.B. Thompson, of Marseilles acted as the Umpires.  The time occupied in the game as 3 hours and 40 minutes.  

 

 "The Ottawa boys, it will be seen, came out 21 points ahead.  The Marseilles boys took their defeat in great good humor, and had prepared a grand supper at the close of the contest, which however, owing to the late hour and their fatigue, the Ottawa boys did not remain to discuss".

 

---
 
 A spare box score shows the Ottawa Club winning a three-inning contest, 230 to 207.  It appears to have been a game of wicket.

Sources:

Ottawa Free Trader, June 26, 1858

 

 

 

Comment:

A wicket club in Illinois?  Really?

Query:

Jeff Kittel notes:   "Protoball doesn't have any references to wicket clubs in Illinois during this period, although there is a reference to a 1857 club in Iowa. Ottawa and Marseilles are in LaSalle County, Illinois, on the Illinois River, about 50 miles southwest of Chicago.  It's possible that the game experienced a period of popularity in central Illinois and Iowa.  Clinton City, where the Iowa wicket club was located, is on the Mississippi, about sixty miles west of Ottawa and Marseilles.  Now the headline says that this was a game of base ball, rather than wicket, but the box score, which I attached, is kind of odd - three innings, possibly playing first to 200 runs.  Sadly, they don't give us any information on the number of players per side."    

Year
1858
Item
1858.61
Edit

1859.42 In Chicago IL, Months-old Atlantic Club Claims Championship

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Atlantic 18, Excelsior 16. This "well-played match between the first nines of the Atlantic and Excelsior took place on the 15th ult., for the championship. . . . The victorious club only started this spring . . . . They have now beaten the Excelsiors two out of three games played, which entitles them to the championship.  

Sources:

" "Base Ball at Chicago," New York Clipper September 3, 1859, p. 160

Query:

So . . . was this construed as the 1859 city crown, just a dyadic rivalry crown, an "until-we-lose-it crown, or what?

Year
1859
Item
1859.42
Edit

1860.20 Lincoln Awaits Nomination, Plays Town Ball?

Tags:

Famous

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Town Ball

Notables:

Abraham Lincoln

"During the settling on the convention Lincoln had been trying, in one way and another, to keep down the excitement . . . playing billiard a little, town ball a little, and story-telling a little."

A story circulated that he was playing ball when he learning of his nomination: "When the news of Lincoln's nomination reached Springfield, his friends were greatly excited, and hastened to inform 'Old Abe' of it. He could not be found at his office or at home, but after some minutes the messenger discovered him out in a field with a parcel of boys, having a pleasant game of town-ball. All his comrades immediately threw up their hats and commenced to hurrah. Abe grinned considerably, scratched his head and said 'Go on boys; don't let such nonsense spoil a good game.' The boys did go on with their bawling, but not with the game of ball. They got out an old rusty cannon and made it ring, while the [illeg.: Rail Splitter?] went home to think on his chances." 

 

 

Sources:

Henry C. Whitney, Lincoln the Citizen [Current Literature Publishing, 1907], page 292.

"How Lincoln Received the Nomination," [San Francisco CA] Daily Evening Bulletin vol.10 number 60 (Saturday, June 16, 1860), page 2 column 3.

Warning:

Richard Hershberger and others doubt the veracity of this story. He says [email of 1/30/2008] that one other account of that day says that Abe played hand-ball, and there is mention of this being the only athletic game that Abe was ever seen to indulge in.

Comment:

A political cartoon of the day showed Lincoln playing ball with other candidates. It can be viewed at  http://www.scvbb.org/images/image7/

Thanks to Kyle DeCicco-Carey for the link.

Query:

 

 

Year
1860
Item
1860.20
Edit

1860.37 Late Surge Lifts Douglas' over Abe Lincoln's Side in Chicago IL

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Notables:

Abraham Lincoln, and Stephen F. Douglas

"Base Ball and Politics. - We do not approve of their thus being brought into contact, but as a match took place at Chicago on the 24th ult., between nine [Stephen] Douglas me and nine [Abe] Lincoln men of the Excelsior Club, we feel in duty bound to report it."

Sources:

New York Clipper, July 1860. 

Comment:

Tied after eight innings, the outcome was prophetic for the ensuing election (in the state legislature) for the U. S. Senate: Douglas 16, Lincoln 14.  

Year
1860
Item
1860.37
Edit

1861.15 First Sunday in the Army: "Ball-playing, Wrestling, and Some Cards

Tags:

Civil War

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

In early May 1861, the new 13th Illinois Regiment assembled in East St. Louis IL. Writing of the first Sabbath in the camp, the veterans later said "There was drill: so the notion of the leaders ran. A better view obtains now. There was ball-playing and wrestling and some card-playing, but that [just the card-playing?] was generally regarded as out of order."

 

Sources:

Military History and Reminiscences of the Thirteenth Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Infantry (Woman's Temperance Publishing, Chicago, 1892), page 10. PBall file: CW-122. 

Comment:

This may be the first recorded instance of ballplaying by Civil War soldiers.

Year
1861
Item
1861.15
Edit


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