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Stories of railroads and medicine men at Princeton Public Library

Published: Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 2:48 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 2:54 p.m. CDT
Simon Cordrey

PRINCETON — Journey Stories of the Iron Road and the Traveling Medicine Man will be coming to the Princeton Public Library in the next two weeks.

At 6:30 p.m. today, Tuesday, Simon Cordery, chair of the history department at Western Illinois University, will speak on the Hidden History of the Railroads of Illinois. The saying, “a hog can travel non-stop from coast to coast, but a person must change in Chicago,” confirms the Windy City’s status as the hub of the American railroad system. But Chicago is only one aspect of the fascinating history of Illinois railroads.

Cordery will survey the expansion of the railroad industry in the Land of Lincoln, demonstrate how Illinois fits into the pattern of national railroad development, and explore the national political significance of the history of railroads in the Prairie State in the 19th century.

Princeton story teller Mick Henneberry will recount the life and exploits of Tiskilwa native J.I. Lighthall, bringing his version of Lighthall’s “Indian Medicine and Sanative” to the library on Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m. Lighthall was born in Tiskilwa in January 1856. He studied Native American herb lore and became a traveling medicine man.

Lighthall was so famous in his day that his obituary (he died in 1886) was printed in the New York Times. He was known as the “Diamond King” because of his fondness for jewelry encrusted with the gemstones, indicative of the degree of his success.

The Journey Stories exhibit continues at the Princeton Public Library through Dec. 29, and has been made possible by the Illinois Humanities Council. The library is 698 E. Peru St. in Princeton. For more information, call 815-875-1331 or visit All programs at the library are free and open to all.

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