Did You Know That Southern Illinois Originally Belonged To Virginia?

Illinois was one of the great American frontiers for a long time after the land was first discovered by new settlers. And it was a strange place with useful resources. There were many natural locations suited to settlement, such as those bordering the Mississippi, Ohio, and Wabash Rivers. The state is relatively flat (in comparison to the eastern and western states) with low marshes, plenty of forests, and easy access to coal. 

Other resources were abundant. Saline County is notable because it was named after the copious amounts of salt in the Saline River. Avid hikers will know to bring their sweat-soaked clothes inside their tents because animals will find the clothes and lick them for the salt. It was for this same reason that the Saline River attracted animals like deer and buffalo. They could approach the banks and simply lick the mud.

The French first arrived in 1673 — and were welcomed by the Native American tribes who already inhabited the area (they had lived there since most likely 12,000 B.C.). They explored the region, established a military foothood, and continued to look for a way to the Pacific Ocean, which was their primary goal. These outposts were useful for those travelling out west or north to Canada.

The French and Indian War changed everything. The French lost the territory — along with the war — when the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763. Afterward, the English ruled for a short period. HIstory buffs will understand why they couldn’t hold the large region right away: The American Revolution terminated their hold in the area. In 1778, a Virginian military expedition landed at Fort Massac in Illinois. He moved on and defeated the English who were garrisoned in the area. The state government of Virginia claimed Illinois as one of its own territories.

Even that was short-lived, because Virginian authorities realized that trying to control such a large, distant land was strategically untenable — and probably not worth the trouble since it was populated by so few people. And Virginia itself didn’t hold the political or military importance it eventually would. Bigger cities like Fairfax, Virginia didn’t even exist yet.

That wasn’t the end of determining who would eventually control the territory. Illinois was added to the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 alongside Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. In 1800, Illinois was part of Indiana. 

Illinois itself attained statehood on December 3, 1818. 

The state has had a checkered history. Because many original settlers were from the south, its political affiliations are split relatively evenly down the middle. During the Civil War, political strife became readily apparent even in the same families. 

It’s worth noting that slavery existed in Illinois, starting with Native Americans before settlers ever arrived, and only ending with the Civil War in all forms. When Illinois became a state, slavery was technically outlawed. But indentured servitude was still allowed, which allowed essentially the same thing.

Top Wineries To Visit In Southernmost Illinois

Southernmost Illinois might not be the first region you think of when you imagine wine, but guess what? Some Illinois wineries offer high-quality tastes and flavors for any palette that rivals anything Southern California has in its scorched fields! We jest, but the climate of Southernmost Illinois is just far more agreeable. If you’re looking for a mild vacation spot to rest and relax (especially now), then here are a few of the top wineries to visit while you’re here.

Don’t want to commit to visiting a single winery? No problem. Hit up the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. Over 35 miles of majestic countryside, you’ll have the option of stopping at no fewer than 11 award-winning wineries. When you’re done with each of those wineries, there is plenty to find in town. Time to explore!

Alto Vineyards is one such winery along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. Check for hours ahead of time, because the resurgence of coronavirus cases in Illinois could impact your travel plans. Alto is the oldest winery in Southernmost Illinois — and you’ll soon find out why. They have one tasting room in Alto Pass and another in Champaign.

Peachbarn Winery and Cafe rests in an aesthetically pleasing locations alongside plenty of fruit fields and trees inside of Shawnee National Forest. The best part of Peachbarn? The gourmet food is, well, gourmet. Enjoy a bite to eat as you sample new wines.

Kite Hill Vineyards doesn’t just boast great wine: it’s also a renowned Bed & Breakfast where you’ll be comfortable staying overnight. It’s a great starting point if you’re new to the area, and the owners won’t hesitate to help focus your travel plans before sending you off to the next winery. There’s great food to boot!

Von Jakob Winery & Brewery combines the best of both worlds. Wife a wine lover, husband a beer lover? No problem! Both palettes are very much covered here, and the food is divine. Von Jakob is near Carbondale. This is a stunning location with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, forests on the exterior, and huge orchards.

Who doesn’t like a waterside view? Check out the Cache River Basin Vineyard & Winery in Belknap with restaurants and cabins on site. There are stylish bedrooms, great views, a sauna and hot tubs! The winery plans a number of expansions in the near future, including a walking trail and zip line. A lovely bench now sits atop a nearby hill so visitors can take in the view before or after a tasting!

Car accidents occur most often due to distracted driving and driving while drunk. Please be safe. Do not drink and drive!

Conventions Industry Might Be Returning To Southernmost Illinois In 2021

Conferences and conventions make up a big part of niche entertainment in the United States. Some only occur once a year at one location. Others travel to multiple locations to ensure that as many people can participate as possible. Usually, these events cater to a specific group of people with specific interests. But all together, the industry accounts for about $100 billion in cash flow every year. Not surprisingly, the industry was completely closed for most of 2020 thanks to the novel coronavirus.

Reopening might be easier in even the hardest hit states, such as Florida and Texas. In these warmer climates, it’s easier to keep events outside where sanitizing surfaces and keeping people six feet away from one another is no problem. 

Executive director Mark Tester of the Orange County Convention center in Orlando, Florida said, “I’m very excited to be getting groups back.”

According to the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, 64% of cons and conferences have been canceled since March of 2020. Executive Vice President Cathy Breden said on behalf of the organization, “Shows are watching closely to see what each is doing.”

They all want to get back into the game, but not until officials are sure it’s possible to accomplish safely.

Southernmost Illinois isn’t the most popular spot for cons, but our residents don’t mind traveling north if that’s where the action is. McCormick Place in Chicago was supposed to host 12,900 people for a conference by the International Manufacturers Technology Show. The loss in revenue for the eventually cancelled event is estimated at a whopping $24.7 million.

Why was it canceled? Illinois has a reopening plan that occurs in phases, and a specific set of conditions must first be met before an organization can hold a large gathering — whether that gathering is indoors or outdoors.

The plan says, “The conditions that must be met for the implementation of phase 5 feature either the availability of a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus or a highly effective treatment protocol, neither of which are expected to occur in the coming months.”

At least two vaccines are citing the probability of near-complete efficacy in reducing the chance of coronavirus transmission, but only peer review and the scientific process will let us know for sure. And even if those two vaccines are effective, that doesn’t mean they can be mass produced in time for spring events. Most fans of their favorite cons will have to wait a little bit longer for these larger gatherings.

It’s possible that certain smaller, limited events will begin operating by the end of the year, however.

Sun Trust Robinson Humphrey writer Barry Jonas said, “While this could suggest meeting planners are still holding out for a potential return to normalcy post-vaccine, we could see cancellations accelerate as the scheduled event date approaches.” 

But most organizers will be waiting until the last minute to hold an event or cancel. 

Will Southernmost Illinois Residents Vote For Joe Biden Or Donald Trump?

The numbers are pouring in — and the word is that early voting and voting by mail will likely lead to record turnout in the southern areas of Illinois. Chicago almost always votes blue, but what about the rest of the state? Southernmost Illinois votes red. Will our residents continue this trend in 2020 to propel Donald Trump to an Illinois victory? Most models predict a resounding Biden win on or shortly after Election Day, but mostly because of turnout in Chicago and its suburbs, which are increasingly likely to lean blue.

Voter Tresa Collins said, “I prayed about it. God answered my prayers, and here I am. I prayed about voting, because I want God’s will for America.”

Collins is a 90-year-old voter who sees this election as more important than usual, but she voted early due to the pandemic. She added, “I feel that it’s our duty as an American to vote. That’s why I’m here, because I know it’s a dangerous time. I’m trying to do all that my government tells me to do to protect myself. The rest is up to the good Lord.”

Williamson County Clerk and Recorder acknowledged the difficulties keeping everyone safe in 2020, and requested all early voters wear masks — but turning away American citizens who want to vote but choose not to wear a mask could lead to legal action, and the county knows it. That’s just one more reason why voting early makes more sense. 

Many parts of Southernmost Illinois are still expected to swing toward Donald Trump, but polls suggest that Biden has ebbed away at Trump’s base of support. The incumbent has put off many voters with his penchant for lying on camera, his attitude to international relations, and his ineptitude in handling the coronavirus pandemic here in the United States.

Is Voter Fraud A Problem In Southernmost Illinois?

Many voters — especially those who vote Republican — are worried about the possibility of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. In Illinois, only 40 cases of voter fraud have been documented since 2000, which makes it extremely unlikely that voter fraud could turn the tide of an election. Bipartisan committees have long since acknowledged that widespread voter fraud in American elections simply does not exist. Trump’s own FBI director contradicted the president’s voter fraud scare tactics. 

But that hasn’t stopped the president from continuing to sow doubt about the authenticity of an election that he seems poised to lose by a landslide.

Some residents wonder if allegations of voter fraud are more or less likely because of the impending financial crisis due to coronavirus, which resulted in many people losing their jobs — and health insurance. Credit card debt relief attorney Ronald Samuel said, “People think that the next president will make or break this economy, and they’re dead set on voting one way or the other. Many of my clients worry that fraud is a big problem in 2020, but our associates know that widespread fraud is a myth and our problems won’t really go away no matter who’s in office.”

Voter fraud does exist, however — and in the highest of places. A widowed election judge who lived in Southernmost Illinois filled out a ballot for her deceased husband in 2016, voting for Trump. She was charged with voter fraud.

Cases like that have led to an increase in the number of inquiries about what happens if someone casts an early ballot and then dies. Some states allow the ballot to be counted while others do not accept its authenticity. Many advocates of allowing these ballots to be counted contend that the deceased were American citizens at the time of their death with the ability to vote because voting was already open — so why shouldn’t their votes be counted?

Others argue that the point is moot either way. Election officials have no way of knowing that a person who already cast a ballot has since died, making it very unlikely that these ballots are actually tossed. Why argue about something that no one can change?

But these “dead voter” allegations help fear mongers sow more doubt into an election. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said, “The ‘dead voters’ is used as a false narrative, a pretext for changes in some states to how they register voters or count ballots when the data shows otherwise.”

And it’s true that dead voters are often mentioned whenever someone alleges voter fraud. How often do we hear Trump say that millions of deceased individuals managed to cast ballots for Hillary in 2016? 

Southern Illinois District of Illinois U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft acknowledged the fact that even though voter fraud may not be widespread, people do have the right to know where and when it happens. 

Weinhoeft said, “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud. The Department of Justice will always act appropriately to protect the integrity of the election process.”

What Are The Longest Trails To Hike In Southernmost Illinois?

The weather is about to take a turn for the worst — freezing temperatures, wind, rain, sleet, snow, you know the drill — which means this next month marks your last chance to get outside to enjoy everything Mother Nature has to offer. That’s not to say you can’t venture into the woods during winter, but not everyone is built to endure the cold. Here are the best trails to explore before autumn chill really sets into your bones.

Trail 049 is a loop that extends for over ten miles. That’s a full day for most of us. Begin your hike in early morning at the East Trigg Trailhead. You’ll want to mark Millstone Lake on your map, because that’s destination number one. From there you’ll find the target Trail 049. Turn toward Jackson Falls. From there, you have a number of options — But looping back to the River to River Trail will take you home.

Want to go farther? No problem. The River to River Trail is actually 160 miles out-and-back. Research the American Discovery Trail if you want to explore even beyond. This trail marks a great opportunity to walk through the Shawnee National Forest, which is Southernmost Illinois’s claim to fame. It passes through a number of wildlife sanctuaries and state parks, including Crab Orchard. Be careful, because many segments of the trail cut through private property. To avoid trouble with the locals, stay on trail. A great thru-hiking opportunity for newbies, too.

Ever biked or walked along the popular Tunnel Hill State Trail, a rails-to-trail creation? Because it was built with trains in mind, the elevation change is minor. Walking, you’ll barely notice. Biking could be harder. The trail extends about 50 miles with a terminus in Harrisburg and the other in Karnak. Want more information? Check out the trail headquarters in Vienna City Park.

Is Southernmost Illinois Ready For Another Inland Hurricane?

Many residents of Southernmost Illinois remember a cataclysmic, historic act of Mother Nature that most people have never even heard about: the May 2009 “inland hurricane.” While a storm so large has failed to find its footing in the region ever since, scientists warn that man-made climate change could create strange weather patterns, or make those we’ve already experience all the more likely in the future. Are we ready for another one?

These storms aren’t called hurricanes when they don’t come in from the ocean. They are called Derechos. The 2009 Derecho was described as  mesoscale convective vortex, or MCV. It slammed into Kansas, Missouri, and southwestern Illinois. Some have even described the 2009 storm as a Super Derecho because of its size and scope. The storm brought reports of 39 tornadoes. Some hail brought by the storm was baseball-sized!

Damage in Carbondale reached an estimated three million dollars, and up to 34 buildings at Southern Illinois University were completely demolished by the storm. Damage to the university was estimated at over five million dollars. Communication was interrupted for weeks. Tens of thousands were left without power.

Even in northern Illinois, wind gusts reached a sustained 92 mph only 100 miles away from Chicago, putting one of the greatest cities in the U.S. in danger. Much of the damage caused by the storm blocked roads to Chicago.

Norman, Oklahoma Science Support Chief of the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center Patrick March said, “It ramped up pretty quick…I don’t think anybody expected widespread winds approaching 100, 110 mph.”

MidAmerican Spokesperson Tina Hoffman said, “It’s a lot of tree damage. Very high winds. It will be a significant effort to get through it all and get everybody back on. It was a big front that went all the way through the state.”

Marshall County Homeland Security Coordinator Kim Elder has seen the damage that even smaller storms can do, one of which struck earlier this year. She said, “We had quite a few people trapped in buildings and cars. We’re in life-saving mode right now.”

The danger to life is serious. But most people only have to worry about damage to their property, which is difficult to avoid. Elder urged residents of vulnerable areas in Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, etc., to purchase homeowners insurance with a property damage clause to maintain financial security when the worst happens, and speak to a property damage lawyer if insurance adjusters give them a hard time.

In many ways, a Derecho can become even more impactful than a hurricane — because it’s far more likely to stand still or hover. This can cause far more sustained impacts and increased damage potential. The winds of such a storm can expand for hundreds of miles.

Northern Illinois University Meteorology Professor Victor Gensini said, “They are basically self-sustaining amoebas of thunderstorms. Once they get going like they did across Iowa [and Southernmost Illinois], it’s really hard to stop these suckers.”

Are Southern Illinois Residents Prepared For The Next Few Months?

History shows that residents of Southernmost Illinois have never quite been through the kind of tumultuous times that the next few months are likely to be. What does that mean? Think about the strange confluence of historic events that are currently unfolding in the United States: a pandemic (the fatality count of which could double by the new year), a president who openly states he might not accept the results of the election, a nation more divided than ever before, and a faltering economy.

It seems like a recipe for disaster.

That means we all must prepare for what will come in the next few months. Life will go on no matter what, but not for everyone. Coronavirus has assured us of that. What can you do to prepare? Take a moment to contact an estate planning attorney or check out an estate planning guide. If you are not sure what will happen when you pass away, then these are the most prudent next steps.

The most important step in estate planning is to ensure you have a living will and trust — and that you have assigned a trust friend or family member to execute that will should the worst befall you. This will usually guarantee that the fate of your assets goes according to your plan and not someone else’s. Should you fail to write up a signed and notarized will, then probate court could allocate your assets to beneficiaries you did not necessarily name. In order to keep control, you need to do this as soon as possible.

Another important task is to name those beneficiaries. You might want to set aside a trust or specific funds for a family member to use only under certain conditions. What kind of conditions? Maybe once they reach the age of eighteen, go to college, get married (or even divorced if you’re not a fan of the spouse), etc. You have the power to see that your money goes where you want it to go.

Estate planning can also help you avoid certain kinds of taxes. Smaller estates will avoid taxes on the estate itself, while larger ones might owe Uncle Sam a pretty penny. If you own a business, you might be able to avoid taxes by chatting with a lawyer before making any firm decisions about what will happen to that business when you pass away.

You will also want to name a healthcare proxy to make decisions on your behalf if you find yourself incapacitated physically and mentally. A separate (or the same) trusted individual should be named to take care of financial decisions if you are unable to do so yourself. You can direct these persons to take only the steps specified under certain conditions — so, while the the responsibility might still be weighty, the hope is that these individuals are really only there to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. What are you waiting for?

Coronavirus In Southernmost Illinois: Are We Recovering?

Only one month ago, wineries were discuss the path to reopening amidst the dangerous coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the nation and the world in a fist of uncertainty. Now, everything is regressing. Coronavirus cases are on the rise in cities all over the country, and local and state governments are considering a second round of government restrictions as other preventative measures continue to fail; namely, masks.

Counties in Southernmost Illinois have been recently unaffected by coronavirus. There have been relatively few infections compared to the rest of the country, and only a few dozen deaths. But we know that could change as the virus spreads out of control in larger cities. 

Population density is the largest factor in determining how far the virus will spread and how fast, and thankfully the people who reside in Southernmost Illinois are very spread out. Do you think you might have the virus? Some people have been mistaking the symptoms of coronavirus for seasonal allergies, which might help explain why the virus is making such an unexpected resurgence in some areas of the country. Memorial Day probably had an even larger impact.

Regardless of whether or not you feel sick, Illinois authorities ask that you stay inside when possible regardless of symptoms. Most people don’t display any at all, but they can still spread the virus to others. 

Please disregard misinformation from the president, who continues to downplay the severity of COVID-19.

Wear a mask when you must venture outside for groceries and other necessities. Stand at least six feet away from others when exercising, and try to stay out of the path of runners and bikers. It’s possible they could transmit the virus farther than six feet.

This site focuses on the history of our wonderful geographical region, but that history wouldn’t exist without you, the people. Please stay safe. 

Laws About Personal Injury

Have you ever watched a loved one get caught in a serious accident? These situations are extremely stressful. If the accident was your loved one’s fault, then they will wonder about a potentially looming personal injury lawsuit for years. If it was someone else’s fault, your loved one will have to make the call: to sue or not to sue. But not every accident was created equally, and personal injury law draws the line between what compensation covers and what it does not. This is what you should know.

Usually, suing a person or organization because they were responsible for an injury you sustained requires proof of negligence. In other words, it was not an “accident” in the truest sense of the word; instead, it was a preventable act of negligence. Someone caused your injury because they were not handling a certain situation with the expected safety standards.

One particularly tricky law says that a person who was injured by another person’s negligence can sue for personal injury if and only if that person’s “contributory negligence” was more than the defendant’s. In other words, the person being sued was the biggest cause of the accident — even if the person making the case was negligent as well. 

Other laws outline the differences between the general public and those in a certain profession (such as doctors or teachers). These professionals are held to a higher standard of conduct than your average Joe, meaning you can sue them for negligence related to their field of work more easily.

There is also a difference between civil negligence and criminal negligence. The former means that a defendant’s negligence may have led to a catastrophic accident but that the defendant broke no laws in the process. The latter means that a defendant’s negligence was both criminal and civil. In such cases the plaintiff is more likely to win a civil case when the defendant has already been charged and convicted with a crime related to the accident.

Personal injury law is also guided by a statute of limitations. These statutes are mostly dependent on the type of accident, whether negligence was criminal or civil in nature, and the region where the accident occurred. For example, a true “personal” injury in a state like Pennsylvania is bound by a two-year statute of limitation. Libel is technically a personal injury as well, but is bound by a less strict one-year statute of limitation. Longer statutes exist for rent collection and broken contracts. 21 years for the former and 20 years for the latter!

There are other aspects of personal injury law to consider — such as when the statute of limitations kicks in. For more detailed information related to personal injury law in your state, request the services of a personal injury lawyer.