On this episode of the Forgottonia Project, we conclude our conversation with Marion Cornelius about the incredible history of Camp Ellis, a massive WW2 Army camp that was located right here in rural Forgottonia.
If you haven’t listened to the first portion of our talk with Marion on Camp Ellis, I’d recommend you listen here (Part 1 – What are the Misconceptions about Camp Ellis?). Marion Cornelius is the director of the Easley Pioneer Museum in Ipava, IL which holds the largest collection of artifacts from Camp Ellis. Our previous conversation focused on some of the basics of Camp Ellis like where the camp is located, how large it is and why it was built in the first place. We took special attention to point out the misconceptions people have about Camp Ellis – such as the fact that the Camp wasn’t used to train soldiers to fight but rather to support the war. This episode I asked Marion about African American soldiers that served at Camp Ellis, notable visitors to the camp, and what he feels is the legacy of Camp Ellis. I’m excited to share this portion of our talk and hope you enjoy!
These past few weeks, we’ve been learning about sundown towns and the impact they’ve had on rural America today (Check out the links below). We were stunned to learn that our informed expert Dr. James Loewen (author of Sundown Towns & Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong”) spent many hours conducting research for his book right here in Forgottonia. Although Dr. Loewen lives on the east coast and conducted research throughout the country, a large portion of his work focused on his home state of Illinois; including the communities of western Illinois, collectively known as Forgottonia. Dr. Loewen poured over census records, studied maps, and visited with local historians, librarians, and anyone else willing to speak to him. We recommend you get a hold of the book to read for yourself. We’d also encourage you to check out the sundown town database on Loewen’s own website linked here – Loewen’s website – Sundown Towns Database.