A Brief History of Barbershop Chapters in Illinois

Cornbelt Chorus

John Hanson directs the Illinois Cornbelt Chorus, 325 men from central Illinois barbershop chapters, in Peoria May 6, 1946 (click to enlarge).

Have you ever wondered just how many chapters were part of our Illinois barbershop history in the 75 plus years of our existence? One would be amazed to learn that at one time or another since the Barbershop Harmony Society was created, that over 120 chapters organized, received charters and welcomed men into the great hobby of singing in harmony.

The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America, Inc. was created in 1938. However long before that official meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, “Harmony Clubs” were known to have been organized in Illinois and elsewhere around the turn of the 1900’s. Specifically, these Harmony Clubs were known to have flourished in various cities in central Illinois, most notably Springfield and Peoria.

Thanks to the efforts of early pioneers such as John Hanson and Glenn Howard, the style of singing we now know as “barbershop” was spread throughout central Illinois and eventually to almost every large city and hamlet in our state by those “harmony men.” At one time in 1951, 65 chapters were chartered and active within the district.

What follows is a collection of Illinois cities that were known to have supported groups of barbershop singers in chapters that were part of the larger SPEBSQSA organization. This information has been gathered through district and Society records.

Chapter Chartered History
Alton (Greater Alton) 1/17/50 Lost in 2009
Arlington Heights 4/12/51 Remains chartered
Aurora 4/29/46 Remains chartered
Barrington 7/14/46 Lost in 1952
Beardstown 7/24/46 Lost in 1954
Belleville 8/26/48 Remains chartered
Belvidere 10/25/46 Lost in 1953
Beverly Hills 1/1/64 1978 merged with Southwest Suburban chapter to form the Oak Lawn chapter
Blackhawk (Oregon) 1952 Lost in 1963
Bloomington 12/31/42 Remains chartered
Bureau Co. (Princeton) 8/1945 Became inactive from 1969 through 1976
Re-chartered in 1976
Cairo 5/20/46 Lost in 1949
Cambridge 7/29/46 Lost in 1951
Canton 1/1/41 Lost in 1956
Carbondale (Herrin) 1968 Became Carbondale in 1976
Lost in 1993
Re-chartered in 2004
Centralia 9/7/45 Lost in 1947 – Re-chartered in 1950
Champaign/Urbana 1/28/47 Remains chartered
Charleston 5/27/46 Lost in 1965
Chicago #1 6/1/39 Remains chartered
Chicago Firefighters 1/1/60 Lost in 1963
Chicago Metro (Northwest) March 1984 Created by a merger of the Pioneer, Skokie Valley and Town & Country chapters
Cicero/Berwyn 1/1/40 Lost in 1945
Chillicothe 8/31/48 Lost in 1957
Cissna Park 10/25/46 Lost in 1950
Clinton 4/14/48 Lost in 1950
Coles County 7/12/70 Remains chartered
Collinsville 1/1/70 Remains chartered
County Line 1/1/58 Lost in 1972
Danville 6/3/46 Lost in 1952
Re-chartered in 1968
Decatur 8/1/45 Remains chartered
DeKalb 1/3/48 Lost in 1951
Dixon 2/27/46 Lost in 1956
Downers Grove 3/21/49 Lost in 1954
Dundee 2/12/48 Lost in 1953
DuPage Valley 1/1/62 Remains chartered
Dwight 12/1/48 Lost in 1958
Effingham 8/8/47 Lost in 1950
Elgin 9/30/46 Remains chartered
Elmhurst August, 1945 Lost in 1947
Fairfield 7/5/49 Lost in 1957
Farmer City 5/31/05 Lost in 1949
Flora 1978 Lost in 1979
Fox River Valley (Geneva) 1/1/44 Lost in 1989
Freeport 10/11/50 Lost in 1967
Galesburg 1/1/43 Lost in 1954
Re-chartered in 1967
Lost in 1975
Gibson City 1/1/53 Lost in 1962
Greenville 1/1/64 Lost in 1970
Harrisburg 1974 Lost in 2013
Havana 6/7/49 Lost in 1952
Heart of Illinois (Peoria) 5/17/51 Lost in 1956
Highland Park 8/4/48 Lost in 1953
Ill. Valley/LaSalle Peru 5/5/47 Lost in 1957
Re-chartered in 1960
Lost in 1972
Jacksonville 1/1/45 Lost in 1956
Jerseyville 9/27/48 Lost in 1959
Joliet 11/7/45 Lost in 1953
Re-chartered in 1955
Merged with South Cook in 2014
Kankakee 4/12/51 Lost in 1970
Re-chartered in 1978
Lost in 1998
Re-chartered in 2006
Kewanee 1/1/44 Lost in 1945
Re-chartered in 1969
Lost in 1979
Kishwaukee Valley 1/1/62 Remains chartered
LaGrange (Q-Suburban) 4/14/47 Lost in 1998
Lake County 1/1/74 Lost in 1989
Re-chartered in 1998
Lena 1/1/68 Lost in1973
Lincoln (Logan County) 10/24/45 Lost in 1953
Little Fort (Waukegan) 172/18/48 Lost in 1958
Lombard (Chicagoland West Suburban) 6/4/48 Remains chartered
Macomb 1/1/44 Lost in 1956
Re-chartered in 1969
Mattoon 5/1/45 Lost in 1953
Monmouth 5/1/45 Lost in 1956
Morris 1/1/59 Lost in 1966
Morrison 3/19/47 Lost in 1953
Morton      ? ?
Mt. Sterling 1/1/52 Lost in 1958
Mount Vernon (King City) 1/1/57 Lost in 1961
Re-chartered in 1985
Lost in 2007
Newman 8/31/45 Lost in 1947
Northwest Suburban 1947 Lost in 1948
North Shore (North Wave) (Winnetka) 8/1/45 Lost in 2010
Northbrook 3/20/50 Lost in 1958
Re-chartered in 1983
Norwood 10/11/49 Lost in 1957
Oak Lawn Created in 1978 Merger of the Beverly Hills and Southwest Suburban chapters
Lost in 2007
Oak Park 1/1/94 Lost in 2001
O’Fallon September, 1943 Lost in 1949
Okaw Valley (Sandoval) 1988 Remains chartered
Old Mill (Savanna) 3/29/50 Lost in 1953
Olney 1973 Lost in 1976
Oregon (Blackhawk) 1/1/52 Lost in 1963
Ottawa 2/3/48 Lost in 1981
Palos Heights 5/5/48 Lost in 1957
Park Ridge 10/25/45 Name changed to Town & Country in 1956
Lost charter in 1983 in merger with Pioneer and Skokie Valley to form Northwest Chicago Metro chapter
Paxton May, 1945 Lost in 1948
Pekin 5/29/50 Lost in 1995
Peoria 1/1/40 Remains chartered
Pioneer 11/17/45 Lost charter in 1984 in merger with Town & Country and Skokie Valley to form Northwest Chicago Metro chapter
Pontiac 10/3/46 Lost in 1948
Re-chartered in 1969
Lost in 1985
Pottawatomie Territory 1/1/89 Lost in 2001
Quincy 11/30/45 Remains chartered
Randolph-Perry 1976 Lost in 1977
Roanoke 7/7/45 Lost in 1950
Rock Island 1/1/45 Remains chartered
Rockford (Greater) 11/17/48 Remains chartered
Rockford (Metro) 1/1/97 Remains chartered
Roodhouse 4/18/46 Lost in 1949
Rushville 1947 Lost in 1950
Salem 1976 Lost in 1977
Sandoval See Okaw Valley
Sandwich 1/1/83 Lost in 1998
Skokie Valley 1/17/50 Lost charter in merger with Pioneer and Town & Country to form Northwest Chicago Metro
South Cook (Homewood) 1952 Retained charter and changed name to Will-Cook in merger with Joliet chapter in 2014
Southtown 2/11/47 Lost in 1970
Southwest Suburban 1/1/57 Lost charter in merger with Beverly Hills to form Oak Lawn chapter in 1978
Springfield 1/1/42 Remains chartered
Sterling-Rock Falls 6/18/51 Remains chartered
Streator 1947 Lost in 1958
Re-chartered in 1962
Lost in 1965
Tuscola 6/11/47 Lost in 1954
Washburn 3/25/48 Lost in 1952
Waterloo 1967 Remains chartered
Waukegan Little Fort 2/18/48 Lost 1958 – re-chartered 1960 Lost in 1965
West Frankfort 9/25/46 Lost in 1948
West Peoria Metro 2/2001 Lost in 2006
Wheaton-Glen Ellyn 1947 Lost in 1954
Winnetka See North Shore
Wood Dale (Countryside) 1963 Lost in 1972
Woodstock 11/17/48 Lost in 1954
Re-chartered in 1969
Lost in 1974

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