There and Here: Small Illinois Towns with Big Names

· Laurent Pernot

About this ebook

Through prose and pictures, There and Here: Small Illinois Towns with Big Names celebrates the bountiful heritage and unheralded charm of Illinois. The book explores the history of more than 100 Illinois towns with foreign names, along with the state's successive capitals, to weave a tapestry of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Illinois, from Indigenous removal and slavery to mass immigration and Lincoln.

Advance praise for There and Here:

Jan Kostner, former director, Illinois Bureau of Tourism:

“Laurent Pernot’s beautiful book unlocks the history and mysteries behind the names of many Illinois towns. There and Here is a wonderful exploration of the Land of Lincoln, giving readers many reasons to get off the highway and explore our state.”

Leo Schelbert, professor emeritus, University of Illinois at Chicago, author of Switzerland Abroad (2019):

“This chronicle of more than one hundred places features mostly smaller and little-known settlements in Illinois. It sketches neo-European foundations after indigenous people had been eliminated and as areas were evolving as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century neo-European domains of the present United States. Names such as Alhambra, Denmark, Liverpool, Palestine, Teheran, and Versailles, may partly point to global awareness of individual name givers. The names may claim inherently that the newly named places were joining those of the old world on an at least symbolically equal footing.

Laurent Pernot’s concise textual entries are greatly enriched by numerous carefully chosen and pleasing pictures in color that offer vistas of landscapes, houses, churches, sculptures, and monuments. The chosen images speak as powerfully as the carefully crafted texts.

Then and Here features however not only the creative efforts of women and men in evolving a neo-European world in a region of the Northern Western Hemisphere coming to be called Illinois. The book’s texts and pictures also point to racial conquest by encirclement, by destruction of indigenous patterns, by expulsion, and by extensive physical annihilation of native peoples. The story documents white settlers’ persistent efforts to achieve an erasure of the millennia-old indigenous occupancy and its replacement by exclusively white jurisdiction.

The concise texts and numerous pictures highlight therefore a double-faced historical eighteenth- and nineteenth-century process as it evolved in today’s region called Illinois: They point to a gradual conquest characterized by totalitarian violence of invaders against millennia-old indigenous groups and by the creative replacement of an ancient native world by an exclusive establishment of neo-European cultural ways.”

More about There and Here:

There and Here yields a richly textured portrait of early Illinois, a place where women and men gave their new towns big names, out of hope, hubris, and maybe even denial. The book chronicles locales from Alhambra to Zion, including towns like Argyle and Norway, which served as the main gateway for immigrants from those locales into Illinois and the rest of the country.

Segments about the state’s seats of power provide useful historical context for the other towns’ more localized stories. Springfield is one of no fewer than six capital cities in Illinois, alongside Kaskaskia and Vandalia, Springfield’s predecessors; Cahokia, center of the largest pre-Columbian civilization in what is today the U.S.; Fort de Chartres, the heart of France’s Upper Louisiana; and Nauvoo, the first great Mormon metropolis. There’s also Metropolis itself, home of Superman. And Popeye reigns sovereign in Chester.

There and Here captures times and people full of abnegation, conflict and hope; the bravery and altruism of the Illinois frontier cannot hide the darker side of the state’s history. From the town's various histories emerges a picture of ethnic and racial brutality, from the violent treatment of tribes to slavery in the southern part of the state, and to lynchings in places like Cairo and Paris. 

Author Laurent Pernot, an immigrant from France, takes a fresh look at his adoptive state, unearthing tales and turf unsuspected by most Illinoisans.


About the author

Laurent Pernot hails from Valentigney, France, and moved to the United States in 1988.

Pernot has worked as a reporter, public affairs consultant and college administrator. He also is the author of Before the Ivy: The Cubs’ Golden Years in Pre-Wrigley Chicago and Fernand: A French Family in War.

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