Influential Quincy Politician Remembered

Today is the birthday of a Quincian who shaped our nation.

A Chautauqua, pronounced SHA-TAH-KWA, was held Saturday in his honor at the John Wood Mansion.

"This is the 200th anniversary of Stephen A. Douglas's Birth. Douglas was appointed to congress from Quincy. He lived here and had a residence here from nearly seven years," Historical Society Director Reg Ankrom said.

To honor Douglas's day of birth, the historical society decided to hold a Chautauqua. A Chautauqua is similar to our modern day festivals, where performances were made, speakers spoke and families could spend time together.

"Chautauquas were very popular in Adams County in the early 20th Century and late 19th Century. In Clayton, Camp Point, Quincy, Payson they would last a week long and people would come in for performances throughout that week," Ankrom said.

"I think it tells a story to another generation and if we stop telling the story, folks forget. Its just human nature," Abraham Lincoln said.

Over a hundred people turned out for the history-filled event to learn about the famous politician.

"What we are doing is examining Stephen A. Douglas of Quincy. What did he do in Quincy. Where did he live. And who were his friends," Ankrom said.

Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas were on hand to give their accounts on history as well as other popular figures of the era.

"This is my first Chautauqua. This is something I have always wanted to do so this is thrilling," Douglas Actor Gary DeClue said.

"We have not done this before, but we are aware of Chautauquas and Quincy had a lot of them, too. This is the first time we have attempted to do this," Ankrom said.

The historical society of Quincy and Adams County hopes to have more similar events to celebrate other influential Quincy figures.

"At the Historical Society, our job is to promote the history of Adams County and Quincy and this is one of the key events. Douglas is one of the 19th Century's most powerful politicians," Ankrom said.

Centuries ago chautauqas lasted a week. Saturday 's only lasted the afternoon.