Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  James Henry Krohe  

Pen Name: None

Genre: History

Born: 1948, in Beardstown, IL


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Illinois Connection

I was born in 1948 and raised in Beardstown and Springfield in a family whose roots in the area date to the 1830s.

My introduction to the state’s history began as a young man, when I worked variously as a docent at the restored Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices in Springfield and on field excavations of both frontier and Mississippian-era archeological sites in the Sangamon and Illinois river valleys.

In the 1970s I was the editor and designer and occasionally an author of a series of monographs published by the Sangamon County Historical Society under the title Bicentennial Studies. I researched and wrote two of the most popular of that series, "Summer of Rage: The Springfield Race Riots of 1908" and "Darkness at Noon: A History of Coal Mining in Sangamon County."

"Summer of Rage" introduced that event to a general audience, which led eventually to the riots being officially commemorated in the capital city by tours, markers, and brochures.

In 1977 I edited and designed "A Springfield Reader", a book-length anthology of published writing about the capital city.

Biographical and Professional Information

I was a contributor, columnist, and associate editor at the Springfield weekly, Illinois Times, from its founding in 1975 until 1994; I won the Illinois Press Association's "Best Column" award in 1994. I resumed my career as an IT columnist in 2009 with a new weekly column, "Dyspepsiana."

Until the post was abolished, I was a long-time contributing editor at Illinois Issues magazine, the monthly of government and public affairs published by the University of Illinois, to which I have contributed dozens of feature articles and essays of analysis (including reviews of works on state history) from 1978 to the present. I also was contributing editor of the bimonthly magazine Chicago Times from 1989 until 1990 when the magazine closed, and served in the same position at Inland Architect from 1992 until its sale in 1994.

In addition to my contribution to Inland Architect, noted above, I was a frequent contributor in the 1990s to the "Cityscape" department of the Chicago Reader. In 2008 I edited and wrote introductory material for The Plan of Chicago @ 100, a collection of essays about the work of Daniel H, Burnham, published to commemorate the centennial of Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago.

My work appeared frequently in Nature of Illinois, the journal of The Nature of Illinois Foundation, and I was a regular contributor to the column, "Politics and Policy," in Chicago Enterprise magazine, the monthly of the Commercial Club of Chicago, until it ceased publication.

In addition to magazine and newspaper work, I have written and/or edited several reports and studies for Illinois public agencies and not-for-profit organizations. Topics include conservation planning, child welfare, school district reorganization, drug education, energy conservation, solid waste policy, and historic preservation.

My career as a national magazine journalist and critic began in 1975. My work has appeared in more than a dozen national magazines and newspapers, including The Nation, Reader's Digest, New York Times Book Review, Chicago Tribune, and Wall Street Journal.

I was for years a regular contributor to such magazines as Landscape Architecture and World Architecture (London), and have been a regular contributor to Planning, the American Planning Association's monthly, since 1978. I also edited The Plan of Chicago @ 100: 15 Views of Burnham's Legacy for a New Century (2009), a book of essays about that seminal document.

I authored one of three parts of a series on pollution and risk published by the American Bar Association's Student Lawyer magazine that won the Chicago Headline Club's 1985 Peter Lisagor Award for reporting and that year's award for editorial excellence from the American Society of Business Publications Editors.

From 1978 until its demise in 2014 I was a feature writer and contributing editor to the business journal The Conference Board Review (formerly Across the Board), published by The Conference Board in New York City.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Corn Kings and One-Horse Thieves: A Plain-Spoken History of Mid-Illinois
ISBN: 0809336022

Southern Illinois University Press. 2017

In Corn Kings and One-Horse Thieves, James Krohe Jr. presents an engaging history of an often overlooked region, filled with fascinating stories and surprising facts about Illinois’s midsection.


Krohe describes in lively prose the history of mid-Illinois from the Woodland period of prehistory until roughly 1960, covering the settlement of the region by peoples of disparate races and religions

the exploitation by Euro-Americans of forest, fish, and waterfowl

the transformation of farming into a high-tech industry

and the founding and deaths of towns. The economic, cultural, and racial factors that led to antagonism and accommodation between various people of different backgrounds are explored, as are the roles of education and religion in this part of the state. The book examines remarkable utopian experiments, social and moral reform movements, and innovations in transportation and food processing. It also offers fresh accounts of labor union warfare and social violence directed against Native Americans, immigrants, and African Americans and profiles three generations of political and government leaders, sometimes extraordinary and sometimes corrupt (the “one-horse thieves” of the title). A concluding chapter examines history’s roles as product, recreation, and civic bond in today’s mid-Illinois.


Accessible and entertaining yet well-researched and informative, Corn Kings and One-Horse Thieves draws on a wide range of sources to explore a surprisingly diverse section of Illinois whose history is America in microcosm.


Awards

-- *2018 Illinois State Historical Society Superior Achievement Award, Corn King and One-Horse Thieves: A Plain-Spoken History of Mid-Illinois

-- *1977 ISHS Award of Merit, A Springfield Reader: Historical View of the Illinois Capital, 1818-1976