Decatur: The Heart of Illinois


By Adrian Naves






August is the beginning of NFL fever, and the teams are prepping for the pre-season, providing hopeful fans a preview of what’s to come for their favorite teams and how they will measure up against the rest of the league. As for the Chicago Bears, they have a different kind of preview for the upcoming season – a new updated primary logo on the Bears helmets,’ setting the traditional “C” as the secondary logo. Seeing this kind of change, making this a first time in 50 years for a modification of uniform design.

Tradition is fundamental to the Chicago Bears, so slight changes like this can cause a stir among the fans. Learning how the Bears came about is quite funny. One fun fact that perhaps some Bear fans don’t know…is that the Bears where not originally from Chicago, they were also not named the Bears either – they were formally known as the Decatur Staleys. Amazing right? It’s almost certain that some will ask “who or what is a Decatur Staley?” – which led to even more interesting facts about the history of the Chicago Bears and the city of Decatur.



The franchise was founded in Decatur, Illinois, on September 20, 1920. The team was owned by the A. E. Staley Manufacturing Company, they chose to play on the company field known as Staley Field. Although the football team was popular, they struggled financially. The Staley company sold the team to George Halas and his partners, who relocated the team to Cubs Park (now known as Wrigley Field) in 1921. In 1922, renamed the team the Chicago Bears.



The city of Decatur has a rich and fascinating history, as well as how the city obtained its name. The city was first founded in 1829 and named after Stephen Decatur, a naval hero from the War of 1812. Decatur was the first home in Illinois of Abraham Lincoln, settled west of Decatur with his family in 1830.

For most of the 1900s, Decatur was referred to as “The Soybean Capital of the World,” making the city a major grain processor. During the early half of the 1900s, over 33% of all soybeans grown in the world were processed in Decatur – Thus in 1955, Soy Capital Bank was born. The Decatur economy is slightly different from its inception, with soybeans still having a major presence in the city, two other notable firms that well established in the city are Caterpillar Inc. and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) – an economy based on industrial and agricultural commodity processing and production.



The city is also home to Warren Buffett’s son, Howard Buffett. Howard currently resides in Decatur, where he oversees a 1,500-acre family farm in Pana, Illinois. Howard has donated to the Decatur Public Schools Foundation, plus other philanthropic causes throughout the city of Decatur.



Decatur is a special place in Central Illinois, also called the Heart of Illinois – an area that covers Champaign-Urbana, Quincy, Springfield, Danville, and Decatur. Decatur is home to Millikin University, the James Millikin Homestead also resides in Decatur. From the Scovill Zoo, the Wabash Depot Antique Mall, Children’s Museum of Illinois, and the wonderful Lincoln Square Theater – There’s always something to do and discover in Decatur, enjoy the scenery and the beautiful surrounding nature of Decatur…come on down to visit and put your feet up.