THE FORGOTTEN SEVEN

by NORMAN  V.  KELLY

The  truth is that over the past thirty-five years I have discovered numerous men and women that were either born here or lived here in the Peoria area that went on to accomplish things that in many instances made them famous.  I did feature stories on them and to this day I still write a series of stories called Child of the City. The seven men that I want to tell you about will all…

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Peoria's Grand Opera House

by Norman V. Kelly

As a local historian, most of my writings and speaking engagements concern the bawdy, seedy side of Peoria, Illinois, circa 1845-1950. Seems folks are more interested in our sordid, gangster and gambling past than they are about the truly remarkable history surrounding this great city. So it is with pleasure that I tell you about one of the most beautiful...

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Peoria’s Coliseum & Armory

 by Norman V. Kelly

Let’s go back to 1900 in Peoria, Illinois.  By then Peoria was sophisticated lady, I can tell you that.  The population was 56,100 and we lived in a 9.1 square miles of City Limits.  We had a magnificent GRAND OPERA HOUSE, a fistful of breweries and distilleries and a highly rated park system and school system.  We were the center for all...

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A Bridge Too Old

by Norman V. Kelly

There is a lady who resides with her many friends at Buehler Home who is a living historian with a great memory.  She told me about her childhood trips to the Upper Free Bridge. After a bus ride and a streetcar ride, they found themselves at...

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1866: The Shaft

by NORMAN V. KELLY
Photo Courtesy of Peoria Historical Society


I remember seeing ‘The Shaft,’ that’s what we grew up calling it, standing there within the square on the Jefferson Street side of the courthouse.  It was 1950, the Korean War was on and I was heading for the United States Air Force.  On my last day in Peoria, I stood looking up at that old weather-beaten, limestone shaft thinking a bit about the Civil War.  I remember wondering why it was still...

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PEORIA DURING THE CIVIL WAR

by Norman V Kelly

When 1860 began there were editorials and comments from everyone that ever picked up a newspaper here **in Peoria, Illinois** that it looked like the **United States was going to have a Civil War.**  The local newspapers who were always at each other’s throats seemed to think there was no way out of it.  If you think we have political battles now you should sit down and read our old newspapers. I did for thirty-three years.  I wrote twelve books and hundreds of articles from the information I gleaned from all those articles and historical records and I followed our very early history for well over three decades.

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1851: THE PRAIRIE HANGINGS

by Norman V. Kelly

It was 1850 and the little village trading post had become a town in 1835 and a city in 1845.  The total make up of the entire Peoria city limits was only one square mile.  There were a few cabins, a house or two a couple of breweries and distilleries and a library.  It was astounding how this little city...

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Diary of Our River City

I thought I would bring you some early history in a form of a diary that was devotedly kept and guarded by our keeper of the records, the folks at the Peoria Public Library. Even before we became a city in 1845, there were newspapers located here, followed quickly by a library and record keepers, court files, and police reports. That record was scrupulously kept. Most importantly for me as a writer was the record of deaths kept in the coroner’s office.  The only time our records were distorted was during the time our pet gangster....

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