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Comment: Used: Very Good/Very Good; Jacket has slight discoloration, wear to the edges, minor shelf wear, binding tight, inside cover has writing in ink, else pages clean and unmarked. In the 1950s and '60s, John W. Allen told the people of southern Illinois about themselves - about their region, its history, and its folkways - in his series of newspaper articles, "It Happened in Southern Illinois." Each installment of the series depicted a single item of interest - a town, a building, an enterprise, a person, an event, a custom. Originally published in 1963, Legends & Lore of Southern Illinois brings together a selection of these articles preserving a valuable body of significant local history and cultural lore.During territorial times and early statehood, southern Illinois was the most populous and most influential part of the state. But the advent of the steamboat and the building of the National Road made the lands to the west and north more easily accessible, and the later settlers struck out for the more expansive and fertile prairies. The effect of this movement was to isolate that section of the state known as Egypt and halt its development, creating what Allen termed "an historical eddy." Bypassed as it was by the main current of westward expansion and economic growth, its culture changed very slowly. Methods, practices, and the tools of the pioneer continued in use for a long time. The improved highways and better means of communication of the twentieth century brought a marked change upon the region, and daily life no longer differed materially from that of other areas.Against such a cultural and historical backdrop, Mr. Allen wrote these sketches of the people of southern Illinois - of their folkways and beliefs, their endeavors, successes, failures, and tragedies, and of the land to which they came. There are stories here of slaves and their masters, criminals, wandering peddlers, politicians, law courts and vigilantes, and of boat races on the rivers. Allen al
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Legends & Lore of Southern Illinois Hardcover – January 1, 1963

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In the 1950s and '60s, John W. Allen told the people of southern Illinois about themselves - about their region, its history, and its folkways - in his series of newspaper articles, "It Happened in Southern Illinois." Each installment of the series depicted a single item of interest - a town, a building, an enterprise, a person, an event, a custom. Originally published in 1963, Legends & Lore of Southern Illinois brings together a selection of these articles preserving a valuable body of significant local history and cultural lore.

During territorial times and early statehood, southern Illinois was the most populous and most influential part of the state. But the advent of the steamboat and the building of the National Road made the lands to the west and north more easily accessible, and the later settlers struck out for the more expansive and fertile prairies. The effect of this movement was to isolate that section of the state known as Egypt and halt its development, creating what Allen termed "an historical eddy." Bypassed as it was by the main current of westward expansion and economic growth, its culture changed very slowly. Methods, practices, and the tools of the pioneer continued in use for a long time. The improved highways and better means of communication of the twentieth century brought a marked change upon the region, and daily life no longer differed materially from that of other areas.

Against such a cultural and historical backdrop, Mr. Allen wrote these sketches of the people of southern Illinois - of their folkways and beliefs, their endeavors, successes, failures, and tragedies, and of the land to which they came. There are stories here of slaves and their masters, criminals, wandering peddlers, politicians, law courts and vigilantes, and of boat races on the rivers. Allen also looks at the region's earlier history, describing American Indian ruins, monuments, and artifacts as well as the native population's encounters with European settlers.

Many of the vestiges of the region's past culture have all but disappeared, surviving only in museums and in the written record.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University (January 1, 1963)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00005XMGF
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,374,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Red J. Comb on October 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have had this book for more than 30 years (a 17th birthday gift), and it remains my all-time favorite on the region where I was born, but never really got to know. John W. Allen wrote a column, "It Happened in Southern Illinois," in the Carbondale newspaper for many years, and these columns are collected in this fine book. Allen himself was born in a log cabin in 1887, and knew the folkways of his region well.
Included are profiles of prominent Southen Illinoisians like William Jennings Bryan, Pierre Menard, and William Edgar Borah; and legendary figures like riverman Mike Fink (who could outshoot Davy Crockett and who once jumped halfway across the Mississippi and, realizing he would fall a few feet short of the opposite shore, turned around and went back)and tavern-keeping outlaw Willlie Potts. There are stories of Abraham Lincoln, Lafayette, George Rogers Clark, Pontiac, Robert Ingersoll, Ned Buntline, Johnny Appleseed, Daniel Boone, and other historical figures who came here.
Ghost tales, local superstitions, home remedies, sketches of pioneer and farm life, are not neglected. We learn the differing theories on how "Egypt" came by its name, how numerous towns acquired theirs, and how industry and business developed in the area.
We meet William Newby, the soldier who disappeared during the Civil War and whose attempts to reunite with his family many years later led to persecution and imprisonment as an old man. There are also blacksmiths, itinerant peddlers, river pirates, tall-tale tellers, and other long-vanished characters of the American scene.
Allen's affectionate yet clear-eyed prose avoids the usual traps of books on the folkways of the rural past.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Stock on September 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for the history of Illinois from an everyday view then this book will be a great resource. I was pleased at the variety of subjects it covered and the details of everyday life. There were also interesting stories on individuals. I really liked this book and gleaned a lot of information from it for a talk I was doing on life in the 1840's.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a collection of newspaper columns by John W. Allen treating subjects associated with the Shawnee Hills in southern Illinois, between the Wabash and Mississippi Rivers. Most of them were what we would call folklore, but in the widest sense: they were plain history as well, some of them, the kind of things people used to talk about. The history that used to resonate with average people, before the mass media ate and digested people's imagination. The people who used to live in Egypt, as it was called in Illinois.

If this sort of thing is interesting to you, both volumes are very good reading, bedside reading perhaps. Allen was a very good writer, of the journalistic sort anyway. He wasn't a professional scholar, but well-versed in this sort of stuff and a competent fact-checker. Anyone familiar with Vance Randolph's books on the Ozarks, or Richard Dorson's books for the general reader on local American folklores will enjoy this and its companion volume, though Allen's works are not quite as penetrating and scholarly as Dorson's, nor as engagingly written as Randolph's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By GardenGirl on August 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Loved it! Its full of real myths passed down over time. They collected from the older (and now gone) generations.
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By Michelle Vaughn on June 19, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful memory for me since I grew up in the Evansville, IN area.
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