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A Town on a First Name Basis by Cleo Gib





A Town on a First Name Basis by
Article Posted: 05/03/2016
Article Views: 59
Articles Written: 12921
Word Count: 455
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A Town on a First Name Basis


 
Business
Located only a couple hours south of Chicago, the city of Danville is a small Illinois town in Vermilion County and thus, banking in this area is dependent on providing rural loans in Danville, Illinois. Interestingly, the founding of Danville in 1827 actually precedes that of its much larger neighbor to the north. The area in Vermilion County that today is known as Danville was once inhabited by the Miami, Kickapoo, and Pottawatomie tribes of the Algonquin Indians. It was the salt deposits along the Vermilion River, which runs through the area that attracted a variety of wildlife, and thus an abundant food source for the Indians. Unfortunately for the Indians, the salt deposits also attracted the first European settlers to the region, who recognized the value in developing a salt works in the area as early as 1706.

In 1818, the Kickapoo Indians surrendered much of the land in what is now Vermilion County to the federal government. In turn, one of the early settlers and prominent citizens, Dan Beckwith, donated much of the land for the town of Danville, for whom it is named. Beckwith, who was born in Pennsylvania, had also been drawn to the area as a young man and in 1819 accompanied the first European explorers who came here to work the salt deposits. Lots were first sold on April 10, 1827, and advertised as far away as Indianapolis and Vandalia in Indiana. A post office was established the following month in the house of another early settler, Amos Williams, who also contributed land for the city. Both Williams and Beckwith drew up the town’s first plat map and it was William’s suggestion to name the town after Beckwith.

Of note, was the fact that a young Abraham Lincoln practiced law in Danville from 1841 to 1859. In September of 1858, while on his senatorial campaign, Lincoln stepped onto a balcony at the Danville home of his friend, William Fithian, and standing in his stocking feet proceeded to give a speech to the town’s residents. Though Danville would remain an industrial town for the rest of the 19th century, it would become an important coal mining town as well, given the widespread coal formations underlying the eastern half of Illinois. In fact, some of the first open pit mining techniques were practiced in the Danville area. However, by the middle of the 20th century, that economic base would suffer from the closing of many of the mines, which would be converted into lakes, creating recreation and tourist opportunities. Danville remains a small, though significant town in this eastern half of the state and banking reflects this, given its dependence on the business of offering rural loans Danville, Illinois.

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