Monday, February 6, 2017

Tampico, Illinois' Claim to Fame is the Birthplace of Ronald Reagan, the 40th President and Only President Born in Illinois.

Ronald Wilson Reagan - 1911
Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois on February 6, 1911, in an apartment above a bakery. The bakery was purchased by the First National Bank in 1919 and continued as a Bank until the 1930s. The apartment where he was born has been refinished to look as it did when he was born there. The bank has been restored to again look like a working bank of the early 1900s. The store located to the South of the Bank originally was a grocery store and now houses the gift shop for the Reagan Museum. 

When Ronald was 4 months old, the family moved from the apartment to a house on Glassburn Street. The house is located across the street from Reagan Park (originally known as Railroad or Depot Park).

The Reagan family moved into their apartment at 834 East 57th Street, Chicago, Illinois in January of 1915. The apartment building was near the University of Chicago. The University bought the building in 2004 and demolished it in 2013.
832-834 East 57th Street, Chicago, Illinois
They’d come to the city from the western Illinois village of Tampico. Jack Reagan, Ronald's father, got a job selling shoes in the Loop. His wife, Nelle, stayed home with the two boys, 6-year-old Neil and little Ron–called “Dutch”–who was going on 4. (Some sources imply the Reagans lived at two different places in Chicago, but most sources just give one Chicago residence for them.)
Ronald Reagan's Birth Place.
Ronald Reagan was born on the 2nd Floor of this Historic Building.
Ronald Reagan's Birth Room.
Reagan's Tampico, Illinois, Boyhood Home.
Ronald and Neil (Ronald’s older brother; nicknamed “Moon” derived from the ''Moon Mullins'' comic strip character. Neil was a director of the hit radio series, ''Dr. Christian,'' with Jean Hersholt, for nearly 20 years. He also directed his brother Ronald in the television series ''Death Valley Days.'') played on a cannon in the park as young children. He referred to the park and the cannon in several of his stories. When he was 4 years old, the Pitney Store, where his father, Jack Reagan worked, was sold and the Reagan’s moved to Chicago where Mr. Reagan worked for a short time at the Fair Department Store. The family then moved to Galesburg, where Mr. Reagan was employed as a store clerk.
Ronald Reagan's 4th Grade Class photo in 1920 (Ronald is in the second row at the far left with his hand on his chin).
While there, Ronald learned to read at the age of 5, before starting school. He attended Silas Willard School in Galesburg and skipped grade 2. The family then moved to Monmouth for a short time. They were called back to Tampico for Mr. Reagan to again work for Mr. Pitney, who had acquired his old store back. The family lived above the Pitney Store until moving to Dixon in December of 1920.

Tampico is a village located in Tampico Township, Whiteside County, Illinois. As of the 2010 census, the village had a total population of 790, up from 772 at the 2000 census. The area containing the future Tampico Township was a slough. The first non-aboriginal settlers arrived in 1852. The township of Tampico was established in 1861. In 1863-64, the area was drained. The local railroad went into service in 1871. In June of 1874, a tornado struck and destroyed 27 buildings: 

TAMPICO IN RUINS - During the heavy storm that prevailed here on Saturday evening, about 10 o'clock, a whirlwind passed over a portion of this county, going over Lyndon high in the air, touching Prophetstown slightly, and working ruin in the village of Tampico. As far as we learn most of the village is either destroyed or blown from foundations. The two elevators were entirely demolished, the passenger depot and many dwellings were demolished or lifted from their foundations. Mrs. J. G. Banes had her leg broken in two places. An infant of Mrs. Dow's was reported to have been blown away and not found until morning when it was discovered in a pile of rubbish, unhurt, and fast asleep. Miss Maria Banes had her face bruised and severe concussion of the brain - very serious, recovery doubtful. Mr. J. G. Banes and several other persons were somewhat injured, but none seriously. Mrs. Piersall, shoulder dislocated, and Mrs. Gates the same.

The following buildings are totally destroyed: one elevator, capacity 25,000 bushels; one elevator smaller, hay press, Mr. Williams' residence, A. Bastian's house, two houses of Humphrey estate, A. Gurnan's house, J. G. Banes' hotel, M. E. Church, C. Down's house, Gates' Pump Factory, F. Smith's house, G. W. Piersall's house, Haskins' shoe shop, Collins and Maxfield's blacksmith shop. Among some of the injured are Merritt & McGee’s store, Geo. Dee's house, E. W. High's house, McMillan's tenement house, Davis', Dee's and Burke's stores, and numerous others of which we cannot particularize. Total loss is estimated at $25,000 to 30,000. A great many of our citizens went over on Monday and Tuesday. Dr. Anthony reports having visited many of the injured, and that all are doing very well. James Adams, with his usual enterprise, took his photographic apparatus over and obtained several fine views of the ruins, which he has on sale at his gallery.

RE-BUILDING - We are pleased to notice that our neighbors of Tampico are putting forth strenuous efforts to replace the buildings torn down and destroyed by the tornado, about a month ago. The elevators are being replaced and new buildings are growing up on every side. The Tampico businessmen are possessed of vim and energy, and will, no doubt, succeed. The committee estimated the loss of the town by the tornado at $70,000.

The Village of Tampico was incorporated in 1875.
East Side of Main Street  (ca. 1905) showing C. F. Sippel Building before 1910. The Sipple Building is at 107 Main St. on the east side of the street.
East Side Main Street P.H. Likes Grocery Store.
Main Street Looking North J.C. Simpson and Company's Lumber Yard.
West Side Main Street showing the Smith Bros. Hardware is on the left, and McCormick Farm Tools is on the right. These buildings were torn down to make room for the new bank building.
M.S. Whipple Repair Shop.
Hotel Pitney House was located on the northeast corner of Market and Main Streets.
Aldrich Millinery Shop. On the west side of Main Street is the Aldrich Millinery Shop, (L.L. Higday owned Millinery shop until her death 1895. Miss Ristow bought the inventory).
Ed and Desmonia "Dessie" (Scott ) Winchell and their daughter Lillian at Home.

Cyclone of November 25, 1908 damage.
Main Street 1940s.- (east side) Tampico Theater; Royal Blue Store (now the Historical Society); John Wayne's Clothing Store (west side); Opera House/Billiards Parlor (west side); Cain Drug store (west); Millinery Shop (west), Tinks bar (west).
Main St Looking South in the later 1950s. Vera's Lunch Cafe (right) and Tampico Super Market (left).
East Side Main Street 1950s.

CYCLONE STRIKES TAMPICO - on Wednesday, November 25, 1908, a Twister Goes Through the Eastern Part of the City and Demolishes Several Barns. 

A cyclone struck the eastern edge of Tampico last week Wednesday evening at about 7 o'clock and left a mass of wrecked, demolished, and scattered barns and outhouses in its wake. Several barns were completely demolished but very fortunately the storm was not strong enough to wreck any dwellings further than to rack them or tear shingles from thereof. No one was injured and no livestock was killed. The total loss will probably reach about $1500 or $2000 mostly covered with insurance.

The storm came without any warning other than the terrible roar that accompanies twisters. This was heard by several who started for their cellars but were unable to reach them before it was all over. O. D. Olsson who happened to be outdoors saw and heard the funnel-shaped cloud coming and said that it made a noise like a hundred trains. He recognized t\what it was and ran for the house. Others also heard and saw the cloud which they describe the same.

The course of the storm was from the southeast striking the eastern part of the village in an erratic course. Its first effects were felt at Robert Hellier's farm about a mile south of town and the last whack it took was in the northeastern part of the village at the residence of Mrs. Annie Peterson occupied by Fred Wensel.

1936 Farm Ownership Atlas.
Farm & Feed House Museum.

History of Tampico by Hugh Downs of 20/20 Broadcast in 1982.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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