The Following Illinois Counties Voted in Favor of Forming Their Own State

Earlier this week, I wrote about several counties in Illinois that approved by large margins a referendum to discuss the possibility of forming a new state excluding Cook County. I contacted New Illinois, the organization which I believed spearheaded this effort, and found out the referendum was actually the brainchild of a group called Illinois Separation.

Still, New Illinois Chairman G. H. Merritt graciously provided me with a list of Illinois counties that have voted on the referendum and the percentage and number of votes in favor and against (which I fact-checked). The issue has appeared on ballots for just two elections: the Illinois primary election in March 2020 and the general election that just took place on November 3rd.

In nearly every instance, the percentage in favor met or exceeded 70% (with one exception, Christian County, which voted 69% in favor). 80% of voters in Jasper County voted in favor of the referendum. Here is the list (percentages have been rounded up):

November 2020

County% Yes% NoYes VotesNo Votes
Continue reading “The Following Illinois Counties Voted in Favor of Forming Their Own State”

Multiple Illinois Counties Pass Advisory Referendum to Create a New State

Among the more interesting outcomes in the 2020 election was what took place in my home state of Illinois, where multiple counties voted overwhelmingly to explore seceding and forming a new state.

Several news outlets have inaccurately reported this as an effort to eject Chicago and Cook County from the State of Illinois. I’m not sure there’s even a legal mechanism to do so. However, there is a legal mechanism for several counties to vote form their own state, which must be approved by both the state legislature and the U.S. Congress.

If you read the text of the referendum, its intention is clear:

This text on the ballot in Shelby County, Illinois reads:

“Shall Shelby County collaborate in discussions with the remaining 101 Counties of the State of Illinois, with the exception of Cook County, about the possibility of forming a new state and ultimately seeking admission to the Federal Union as the 51st State, pursuant to the provisions of the United States Constitution?”

The text asks whether voters want to discuss with the remaining counties “the possibility of forming a new state…” and entering as the 51st State. It says nothing about removing Cook County from Illinois.

The proposition passed in Shelby County with 72.6% of the vote: 8,470 to 3,189, with over 80% voter turnout. Voters in Christian, Clay, Crawford, and Moultrie counties also voted overwhelmingly in favor.

Continue reading “Multiple Illinois Counties Pass Advisory Referendum to Create a New State”

Could Trump Flip Illinois?

It probably won’t happen, but if it does, I want to be the first to call it. The election results right now in Illinois are very interesting. Republicans seem poised to flip at least one House district, with Jim Oberweis eeking out a win in the 14th. And Joe Biden’s comfortable lead in the presidential results might not be as secure as it seems. Let me explain.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won Illinois by a comfortable margin–55.83% to 38.76%. Hillary got 3,090,729 total votes to Trump’s 2,146,015. This time, Trump is performing a lot better. As of this morning, he had 43% of the popular vote, with some downstate counties left unreported (the rural areas of Illinois are his strongholds). The four unreported counties are:

  • Alexander
  • Hardin
  • Wayne
  • Cumberland

Trump won three of the four by large margins in 2016.

Biden will win Cook County handily, of course, but with 98% of precincts counted, Trump is already doing better there than in 2016. In 2016, he got 453,287 votes in Cook County. This time, he has 456,943 and counting. His percentage in Cook County in 2020 (so far) is at 26.1 vs 21.02 in 2016 because Biden is underperforming.

Illinois and Pennsylvania are similar in population size. If there’s a chance Biden could close the gap and possibly win Pennsylvania, why not Trump in Illinois? It wasn’t that long ago that Illinois elected a Republican governor.

Joe Biden’s lead in Illinois right now is slightly smaller in terms of raw numbers than Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania (635,082 vs 675,012). If Trump can pick up votes in downstate counties, he might have a chance to close the gap in the Prairie State.

Chicago Haunted Handbook Features a Few Surprises

You would be wrong if you thought nothing more could be written about Chicago ghostlore. Chicago Haunted Handbook: 99 Ghostly Places You Can Visit in and Around the Windy City (2013) by Jeff Morris and Vince Sheilds discovered new gems among well-worn territory. Though a little dated at this point, it still offers enough tales to delight readers.

Published by Clerisy Press, Chicago Haunted Handbook is part of the “America’s Haunted Road Trip” series. At 226 pages and with a retail price of $15.95, this book invites you to, “Join in Chicago’s Grandest Ghost Hunt.” It features 99 haunted places, along with four “places that didn’t quite make the book.” The locations are divided into five sections: Cemeteries; Bars and Restaurants; Roads and Bridges; Parks; and Museums, Theaters, Hotels, and other Buildings.

The authors are an unlikely pair. Jeff Morris, from Cincinnati, Ohio, is an experienced author with several titles under his belt. Vince Sheilds was born in Elgin in 1984 and moved to Chicago in 2006, where he formed the Chicago Paranormal Investigators.

I’ve read just about every book on Illinois ghostlore, so I look at them with a discerning eye. Chicago Haunted Handbook has several good qualities that make it worth owning. First, it features several locations seldom covered by other books. The old Huntley Grease Factory is my favorite, but the Polish Museum of America, Joliet Potter’s Field, Tyrell Road Cemetery, and The Drinkingbird, are all relatively new.

Second, the book contains an appendix of day tripping “mini tours.” Each features a couple of different stops (or days), with a different location for each stop. There is even a haunted pub crawl and a gangster tour. I enjoy extras like this, especially since it allows you to explore these places at your own pace (as opposed to going on a bus tour).

Continue reading “Chicago Haunted Handbook Features a Few Surprises”

The Pilgrim

Designed by Albin Polasek, former head of the Art Institute of Chicago’s sculpture department, “The Pilgrim” is a bronze statue, now stained seaweed green, of an elderly woman walking toward the mausoleum belonging to the Stejskal-Buchal family in Bohemian National Cemetery, at 5255 N. Pulaski Road in Chicago, Illinois. It’s now sometimes simply called “Death” or “Walking Death.”

The Pilgrim IV

Where to Order Tales of Coles County

Legends live right outside your door!

The 6th and final edition of Tales of Coles County, Illinois is finally here! If you already own a previous edition, or are hearing about it for the first time, this is the one to buy! 232 pages of hidden history, ghost stories, legends, and lore from one of the most fascinating areas of the state!

Where to order:

Tales of Coles County, Illinois is divided into three parts: Tales, Legends and Lore, and Hidden History.

‘Tales’ takes an entertaining look at local history through vivid historical fiction. When four students from Eastern Illinois University are stranded during a violent storm, they seek shelter with an elderly couple who give them more than they bargain for. After one night, the four will never look at Coles County the same way. With each story, they learn more about the place they’ve come to call home. The Second Battle of the Ambraw, the Charleston Riot of 1864, the Coles County Poor Farm, events surrounding the Airtight Bridge Murder, and the Blair Hall Fire of 2004, all are told.

In ‘Legends and Lore’, Michael Kleen reveals over a dozen hidden stories from the from the area’s past and present, including ghost stories, folk tales, and other legends and lore. When did a poltergeist terrorize one rural family in Pleasant Grove Township? What is the real story behind the “Mad Gasser of Mattoon”? Why do they call one stretch of road “Dead Man’s Curve”? The answers to these questions and more can be found in this definitive volume.

‘Hidden History’ examines events some believe are better left unremembered. What is the history of Coles County’s ghost towns? What were some of its most infamous murders? What happened in the Tornado of 1917? Never-before published information about Mattoon’s battle with Prohibition and even a local chapter of the KKK is inside.

Tales of Coles County 6th Edition is Now Available!

The release date for Tales of Coles County, Illinois – 6th and final edition is here! Find your copy on and Kindle. If you already own a previous edition, or are hearing about it for the first time, this is the one to buy! 232 pages of hidden history, ghost stories, legends, and lore from one of the most fascinating areas of the state!

Less than 24 Hours Remain to Pre-Order Tales of Coles County!

Lock in your 10% discount and get the book early by preordering before midnight tonight (September 30th)! The new edition of Tales of Coles County is chock full of new content and you won’t want to miss it. Why wait until tomorrow and pay full price? Click the link below to order!

I’m no longer accepting pre-orders because the book has officially been released! Order it today on,, and GooglePlay.