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, City of Oglesby IL

City of Oglesby

Where Friends and Rivers Meet


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Oglesby was a center for mining coal, limestone, and silica, located near the confluence of the Illinois River and the north-flowing Vermilion River. Oglesby grew from an amalgamation of several mining villages, such as Kenosha, Portland, and Black Hollow. Originally called Portland because the cement mined and manufactured in the area was similar to Portland Cement from England. It was renamed in 1913.

During the Civil War, the Kenosha Coal Company sank a coal mining shaft at Oglesby in 1865. Thatcher Tucker Bent purchased the mine and mineral rights as the Oglesby Coal Company. The mine was innovative and the Bents were very involved in the development of the community. Mrs. Josephine Bent even organized English classes for the immigrant miner's wives. The Marquette Cement Company mined limestone and claimed that the Bent's mine was causing collapses. The conflict eventually liquidated the Oglesby Coal Company. Another enterprise, the Black Hollow Mine, was dug in the 1890s as a slope mine along the Vermilion River. It provided coal to its owners, the Illinois Zinc Company in Peru, Illinois.

In 1942, artist Fay E. Davis painted an oil-on-canvas mural titled “The Illini and Potawatomes Struggles at Starved Rock” that hung in the town's post office. Murals were produced by the Section of Painting and Sculpture, part of the Treasury Department, from 1934 to 1943. They were intended to boost the morale of the American people suffering from the effects of the Depression by depicting uplifting subjects. This mural's muted earth tones faded badly over time before it was restored in 1988. In 1993, a post office janitor complained about the nudity of the features of the Native Americans depicted in the mural. The painting was covered by a Venetian blind and revealed upon request only until a successful petition drive to remove the blinds was begun soon after.

, City of Oglesby IL
, City of Oglesby IL

A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Oglesby

Where Friends and Rivers Meet

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