Pawnee, Illinois

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Pawnee is a village in Sangamon County, Illinois, United States. The population was 2,647 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Springfield, Illinois Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Contents

History

Pawnee was founded, by virtue of getting a Post Office, in 1854. Originally the community was called 'Horse Creek', which was an improvement from the nearby 'Dead Horse Creek' (where a dead horse was found in the creek Southwest of town), but the petition for a Post Office sent to the postmaster in Springfield, Illinois, was denied under that name. 'Pawnee' was suggested on the grounds that it was fashionably Native American for the time. Justus Henkle was the first settler in the township, and he came to the area in 1818.

Abraham Lincoln used to travel through Pawnee en route to Springfield, Illinois via the Black Diamond Road on the SE side of town, and sometimes the Pawnee Road on the SW side. The Black Diamond Road appears to have been so named based on a nearby coal mine of the same name.

People

Pawnee boasts Illinois' first poet laureate, Howard B. Austin, as its adopted son. Austin was awarded this title in 1936 by Governor Henry Horner. He was born July 27, 1886 on the family farm near Blue Mound, Illinois. He died April 1, 1962 at his home in Springfield, Illinois. Austin performed with the Pawnee Four, a barbershop quartet known in central Illinois. Austin wrote songs for the quartet to perform at conventions, fairs and private celebrations. While living in Pawnee, Austin worked at the Consolidated State Bank.

Austin was known to compose song lyrics quickly, often during the event at which the Pawnee Four were to perform. Austin would hold out a sheet of paper with the lyrics and the quartet would fall into harmonies on his lead. Often his songs were not only composed immediately prior to their performances, but they were frequently about the previous speakers or performers. This contributed to his reputation as a witty and clever poet. Carl Sandburg followed Austin as Illinois next poet laureate.

Pawnee was also the home of Frank Hart, founding member of the band known as Atomic Opera. Frank grew up in Pawnee although he was born in Springfield, Illinois.

Geography

Pawnee is located at 39°35′31″N 89°34′55″W / 39.59194°N 89.58194°W / 39.59194; -89.58194 (39.592050, -89.582012).[1]

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