Rockford, Illinois, Newspaper Archives (1840 - 2008)

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Does your family lineage begin in Ireland? If so, your ancestors could have very well been apart of the immigrants who risked their lives to venture to America during the 1850’s. While Rockford, Illinois was a hotspot for Irish-born immigrants, the city later turned into a popular settlement for several other nationalities including Swedish, Italians, Poles, Lithuanians, and Vietnamese.

 

History of Rockford, Illinois

Rockford, Illinois was first settled in 1834 but didn’t become an official city until 1856. Although the settlement was still trying to establish themselves as a legitimate city, early local newspapers were already circulating and recording valuable information starting back in 1840.

During the 1850’s, Rockford experienced a huge surge of immigrants from all over the world. Irish immigrants were the first to arrive, and once the Civil War had ended, there was an influx of Swedish immigrants. 

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Zouave Rockford soldiers were among the first line of defense for Illinois as well as the rest of the Union. While this period of turmoil severely impacted the entire state, it didn’t take long for Rockford to recover and reestablish itself as a strong and profitable city. By the late 1800’s, Rockford turned from an agricultural village to a booming economic center. 

In the 100 years following the Civil War, Italians, Poles Lithuanians, Vietnamese, Hispanics, and African Americans would all find refuge in the city of Rockford.

If your family heritage includes any of these ethnicities, chances are your ancestors lived, worked, or traveled through Rockford, Illinois. Find out with a quick search by name. 

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