abccGloria Swanson was best known for her role as Norma Desmond in the critically acclaimed 1950 film Sunset Boulevard , but she also worked in silent films, television and theater.

Swanson did not initially set out to become an actress. In 1915, at the age of 18, she decided to go to a Chicago movie studio with an aunt to see how motion pictures were made and was  plucked off the set of The Fable of Elvira and Farina and the Meal Ticket because of her beauty and given a small role in the production.  She moved to California in 1916 to appear in a series of comedies with silent film star Bobby Vernon.

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Walt Disney 1946 croppedDid you know? Walt Disney was from the Hermosa neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. He was born on Dec. 5, 1901 to Flora and Elias Disney and he was one of five children.

Disney attended McKinley High School in Chicago where he took drawing and photography classes. He was a contributing cartoonist for his high school paper and attended night classes at the Chicago Art Institute.

In 1919, Disney started to pursue a career as a newspaper artist. He began working as a cartoonist at the Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio in Kansas City. While in this position, Disney met Ub Iwerks. After both Disney and Iwerks were laid off from Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio, they formed their own company, the Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists. After struggling to develop a customer base, Disney and Iwerks left their firm and began working for the Kansas City Film Ad Company. There, Disney became interested in animation.

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toltonFather Augustus Tolton is known as the first African American priest in the United States. Born a slave in Missouri in 1854, his family eventually reached the free state of Illinois.

At the age of 16, Tolton felt called to the priesthood but he was denied acceptance by every Catholic seminary in the country. With the help of two Quincy priests and Catholic benefactors, Tolton worked odd jobs and in tobacco factories over the next 10 years until he was able to save enough money to travel to Rome to attend a seminary there.

After completing his courses in Rome, Tolton was ordained on April 24, 1886. He expected that he would be sent to an African mission, but he instead returned to Illinois to serve the African American population.

Tolton’s first assignment was Saint Joseph’s church in his hometown of Quincy. During his two years there, he gained enormous respect from many of the German and Irish parishioners. However, he also endured humiliation, isolation and condemnation from fellow priests who would not accept him.

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snowfallDid you know? The biggest snowfall in Illinois history happened on February 28, 1900.

It’s been recorded as the biggest snowfall within a 24 hour time period to ever cover the state of Illinois.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association documented 36 inches of snow fell on the cold brisk day. The highest snow depth ever logged in the state was also associated with that storm.

In Astoria, 41 inches of snow were measured. Recordings have challenged those measurements throughout the years but none have broken the record.

On average, Illinois experiences five severe winter storms between the months of November and April. These storms may only consist of heavy snow, or be a mix of snow and ice.

If you ever find yourself caught in a snowstorm the best thing that you can do according to The Weather Channel is to see if there is a building close by. If there isn’t a building in sight, you should stay in your vehicle and turn the car off. Turn the car on every once in a while to heat it up, and then turn it back off to conserve gas while you wait for help.

For more information on what to do during a snowstorm click here.

Bachelor's grove

It is rumored to have been the most scandalous dumping ground for Chicago’s organized crime families during the 1920’s and 30’s. However there has been no evidence proving these claims.

Legend has it that the cemetery got its name because only men were buried in the graveyard. However, the name actually came from a family who settled in the area. Over the years, the cemetery’s name has been changed several times.

The first thing many visitors notice about Bachelor’s Grove is the destruction. It is overgrown with weeds and gravestones have been moved or broken by grave robbers and vandals. It is now surrounded by a chain-link fence to keep out trespassers. The cemetery sign disappeared many years ago, and due to the rate of vandalism, police are often present at night.

One of the most famous sightings in Bachelor’s Grove is the large ghost house. Most visitors have described it the same way: a white, two-story Victorian farmhouse, with a soft light glowing from the inside. Some say it appears further away as you walk closer to it.

If you would like to check out the cemetery for yourself there are plenty of ghost hunts and tours that bring groups to explore the cemetery at night.