MCHS 2020 Speaker Series Announced

The 2020 line-up of programs for the Madison County Historical Society’s Speaker Series will tell the stories of Native Americans, the search for Pin Oak Colony residents, and Italian immigrants to Madison County. Also included are the stories of two very different men, Elijah Lovejoy and Robert Praeger, whose lives were both cut short in violent ways. All programs have direct connections to Madison County’s history, and all are available at no charge to attendees. The programs are as follows:

February 9

Elijah Lovejoy: Freedom’s Champion or Religious Fanatic?

Stephen Hansen, Emeritus Dean and Professor of Historical Studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will explore the character and personality of Elijah Lovejoy. What kind of person was he? Why did he persist in attacking slavery even after prominent citizens warned him to stop?  Was Lovejoy an uncompromising defender of freedom, a religious fanatic, a revolutionary, or a madman? This program will explore the events leading up to the fateful day in November 1837 when Lovejoy was killed by a mob in Alton. 

April 19

The Lynching of Robert Praeger: A World War I Hate Crime for Uncle Sam

Peter Stehman will discuss his book, “Patriotic Murder,” a fascinating look at the anti-German frenzy, fueled by government propaganda, that led to the lynching of Robert Praeger at Collinsville, Illinois on April 5, 1918. Stehman discusses how civil liberties were hijacked in the name of patriotism during World War I. There are lessons for today in this story of a crime where intolerance and hate against immigrants led to a suspension of civility. There were two crimes against Robert Praeger. Not only was he an innocent man murdered for his nationality, but the leaders of the mob who committed the crime were exonerated.  

June 14

Archaeology at the Gehring Site

Julie Zimmermann, Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will discuss what has been found at the Gehring site which is located on the SIUE campus between Cahokia Creek and the bluff, eight miles north of Cahokia Mounds. The SIUE archaeology field school investigations show the site was used from late PaleoIndian through historic periods, but most intensively during the Middle Woodland (ca. 2000 years ago)  and Mississippian periods (ca. 1000 years ago). Zimmerman will discuss what items have been found and what those items tell us about these early residents of our area.

August 9

Italian Immigration to Madison County

Italians brought their language, food and music with them from the old country and these are reflected in our culture today. Joann Condellone, the great-granddaughter of Italian immigrants to Madison County, will look at the lives and contributions of numerous Italian individuals and families who made an impact in Madison County, including the Lumaghi family who owned coal mines, miners Giovanni and Peter Berutti, labor organizer Peter Condellone, social activist Katie DeRorre and several contemporary immigrants.

October 11

Pin Oak Colony: A Researched African American Community

Historian J. Eric Robinson returns to the MCHS Speaker Series with the story of a community of free blacks in Pin Oak Township that was established by the freed slaves of Edward Coles. In addition, Robinson will explore the issues contemporary researchers face when examining pre-Civil War free black communities. Robinson, a graduate of Howard University and the University of Missouri-Columbia, is an assistant professor of history at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy.

Programs in the MCHS Speaker Series, scheduled on the above dates, are all on Sundays at 2 p.m. in the fellowship hall of Immanuel United Methodist Church at 800 N. Main Street in Edwardsville.