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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).

[H]ave 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.

Alton (Greater Alton)1/17/50Lost in 2009
Arlington Heights4/12/51Remains chartered
Aurora4/29/46Remains chartered
Barrington7/14/46Lost in 1952
Beardstown7/24/46Lost in 1954
Belleville8/26/48Remains chartered
Belvidere10/25/46Lost in 1953
Beverly Hills1/1/641978 merged with Southwest Suburban chapter to form the Oak Lawn chapter
Blackhawk (Oregon)1952Lost in 1963
Bloomington12/31/42Remains chartered
Bureau Co. (Princeton)8/1945Became inactive from 1969 through 1976
Re-chartered in 1976
Cairo5/20/46Lost in 1949
Cambridge7/29/46Lost in 1951
Canton1/1/41Lost in 1956
Carbondale (Herrin)1968Became Carbondale in 1976
Lost in 1993
Re-chartered in 2004
Centralia9/7/45Lost in 1947 – Re-chartered in 1950
Champaign/Urbana1/28/47Remains chartered
Charleston5/27/46Lost in 1965
Chicago #16/1/39Remains chartered
Chicago Firefighters1/1/60Lost in 1963
Chicago Metro (Northwest)March 1984Created by a merger of the Pioneer, Skokie Valley and Town & Country chapters
Cicero/Berwyn1/1/40Lost in 1945
Chillicothe8/31/48Lost in 1957
Cissna Park10/25/46Lost in 1950
Clinton4/14/48Lost in 1950
Coles County7/12/70Remains chartered
Collinsville1/1/70Remains chartered
County Line1/1/58Lost in 1972
Danville6/3/46Lost in 1952
Re-chartered in 1968
Decatur8/1/45Remains chartered
DeKalb1/3/48Lost in 1951
Dixon2/27/46Lost in 1956
Downers Grove3/21/49Lost in 1954
Dundee2/12/48Lost in 1953
DuPage Valley1/1/62Remains chartered
Dwight12/1/48Lost in 1958
Effingham8/8/47Lost in 1950
Elgin9/30/46Remains chartered
ElmhurstAugust, 1945Lost in 1947
Fairfield7/5/49Lost in 1957
Farmer City5/31/05Lost in 1949
Flora1978Lost in 1979
Fox River Valley (Geneva)1/1/44Lost in 1989
Freeport10/11/50Lost in 1967
Galesburg1/1/43Lost in 1954
Re-chartered in 1967
Lost in 1975
Gibson City1/1/53Lost in 1962
Greenville1/1/64Lost in 1970
Harrisburg1974Lost in 2013
Havana6/7/49Lost in 1952
Heart of Illinois (Peoria)5/17/51Lost in 1956
Highland Park8/4/48Lost in 1953
Ill. Valley/LaSalle Peru5/5/47Lost in 1957
Re-chartered in 1960
Lost in 1972
Jacksonville1/1/45Lost in 1956
Jerseyville9/27/48Lost in 1959
Joliet11/7/45Lost in 1953
Re-chartered in 1955
Merged with South Cook in 2014
Kankakee4/12/51Lost in 1970
Re-chartered in 1978
Lost in 1998
Re-chartered in 2006
Kewanee1/1/44Lost in 1945
Re-chartered in 1969
Lost in 1979
Kishwaukee Valley1/1/62Remains chartered
LaGrange (Q-Suburban)4/14/47Lost in 1998
Lake County1/1/74Lost in 1989
Re-chartered in 1998
Lena1/1/68Lost in1973
Lincoln (Logan County)10/24/45Lost in 1953
Little Fort (Waukegan)172/18/48Lost in 1958
Lombard (Chicagoland West Suburban)6/4/48Remains chartered
Macomb1/1/44Lost in 1956
Re-chartered in 1969
Mattoon5/1/45Lost in 1953
Monmouth5/1/45Lost in 1956
Morris1/1/59Lost in 1966
Morrison3/19/47Lost in 1953
Morton     ??
Mt. Sterling1/1/52Lost in 1958
Mount Vernon (King City)1/1/57Lost in 1961
Re-chartered in 1985
Lost in 2007
Newman8/31/45Lost in 1947
Northwest Suburban1947Lost in 1948
North Shore (North Wave) (Winnetka)8/1/45Lost in 2010
Northbrook3/20/50Lost in 1958
Re-chartered in 1983
Norwood10/11/49Lost in 1957
Oak LawnCreated in 1978Merger of the Beverly Hills and Southwest Suburban chapters
Lost in 2007
Oak Park1/1/94Lost in 2001
O’FallonSeptember, 1943Lost in 1949
Okaw Valley (Sandoval)1988Remains chartered
Old Mill (Savanna)3/29/50Lost in 1953
Olney1973Lost in 1976
Oregon (Blackhawk)1/1/52Lost in 1963
Ottawa2/3/48Lost in 1981
Palos Heights5/5/48Lost in 1957
Park Ridge10/25/45Name changed to Town & Country in 1956
Lost charter in 1983 in merger with Pioneer and Skokie Valley to form Northwest Chicago Metro chapter
PaxtonMay, 1945Lost in 1948
Pekin5/29/50Lost in 1995
Peoria1/1/40Remains chartered
Pioneer11/17/45Lost charter in 1984 in merger with Town & Country and Skokie Valley to form Northwest Chicago Metro chapter
Pontiac10/3/46Lost in 1948
Re-chartered in 1969
Lost in 1985
Pottawatomie Territory1/1/89Lost in 2001
Quincy11/30/45Remains chartered
Randolph-Perry1976Lost in 1977
Roanoke7/7/45Lost in 1950
Rock Island1/1/45Remains chartered
Rockford (Greater)11/17/48Remains chartered
Rockford (Metro)1/1/97Remains chartered
Roodhouse4/18/46Lost in 1949
Rushville1947Lost in 1950
Salem1976Lost in 1977
SandovalSee Okaw Valley
Sandwich1/1/83Lost in 1998
Skokie Valley1/17/50Lost charter in merger with Pioneer and Town & Country to form Northwest Chicago Metro
South Cook (Homewood)1952Retained charter and changed name to Will-Cook in merger with Joliet chapter in 2014
Southtown2/11/47Lost in 1970
Southwest Suburban1/1/57Lost charter in merger with Beverly Hills to form Oak Lawn chapter in 1978
Springfield1/1/42Remains chartered
Sterling-Rock Falls6/18/51Remains chartered
Streator1947Lost in 1958
Re-chartered in 1962
Lost in 1965
Tuscola6/11/47Lost in 1954
Washburn3/25/48Lost in 1952
Waterloo1967Remains chartered
Waukegan Little Fort2/18/48Lost 1958 – re-chartered 1960 Lost in 1965
West Frankfort9/25/46Lost in 1948
West Peoria Metro2/2001Lost in 2006
Wheaton-Glen Ellyn1947Lost in 1954
WinnetkaSee North Shore
Wood Dale (Countryside)1963Lost in 1972
Woodstock11/17/48Lost in 1954
Re-chartered in 1969
Lost in 1974