A Brief History of Barbershop Chapters in Illinois

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

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.

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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