Blake Wood
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WHAT: The University of Illinois Springfield will hold four Lunch & Learn Series events this spring. The series is presented by the UIS Alumni SAGE Society and the Illinois State Historical Society.

WHERE: Illini Country Club, 1601 Illini Rd., Springfield


Feb. 16 – “French Illinois”
Doors open at 9:30 a.m., program at 10 a.m. (free - no lunch served)
Mark J. Wagner, professor of anthropology and director for the Center for Archaeological Investigations at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will discuss the remarkable influence of the French in forming Illinois’ heritage and efforts to formalize a French Colonial Corridor in the state. A representative from U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth’s office will join the discussion via Zoom to talk about U.S. Senate Bill 4525, which proposes to establish the Prairie du Rocher French Colonial National Heritage Park in Randolph County.

March 13 – “Drawing Springfield”
Doors open at 11 a.m., lunch at 11:30 a.m., program at Noon
A native of Springfield, Bill Crook has been drawing for more than 50 years, filling sketchbooks of his pen and ink illustrations that “explore the interests of his heart.” As part of his applied study at the former Sangamon State University in 1982, Crook self-produced a 40-page oversized portfolio containing 44 of his pen and ink drawings, using techniques learned in his printmaking classes. His passion has led him to create hundreds of works and publish “Springfield, Illinois: A Pen and Ink Artist Looks at his Hometown,” filled with 185 of his illustrations and covering 145 pages.

April 10 – “Clayville at 200”
Doors open at 11 a.m., lunch at 11:30 a.m., program at Noon
The settlement of Clayville was founded by the energetic and business-minded Broadwell family as a stagecoach stop between Springfield and Beardstown in 1824. A home and Inn were built; the Inn is the oldest standing brick building in Sangamon County and the second oldest in the state. The stop catered to stagecoach passengers, freight caravans, freight carriers, cattle drovers, circuit riders of the legal profession such as Abraham Lincoln and many others. Board president Jesse Boehler and board member Jane Harris of the Pleasant Plains Historical Society, who owns and curates the settlement, will join the group to share the stories and history.

May 21 – “Life and Times of A.E. Staley”
Doors open at 11 a.m., lunch at 11:30 a.m., program at Noon
Award-winning writer and film producer Julie Staley, president of the Staley Museum, will discuss the life and times of A.E. Staley, and his influence on life on the prairie, incorporating what she has learned from both traditional research and personal stories handed down from generation to generation. The A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company grew to become the largest processor of soybeans in the world, and Staley’s passion for sports led him to become the original owner of the football team that became the Chicago Bears, and to ownership of a semi-pro baseball team featuring George Halas and Joe McGinnity. Staley’s influence on Decatur and Macon County is felt today in many infrastructure and philanthropic endeavors.

The March 13, April 10 and May 21 in-person events cost $40 a person and include a hot buffet lunch. Virtual viewing options are also available. Participants can register online. Registration closes one week before the event.

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