Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  James Krohe Jr.  

Pen Name: None


Born: 1948 in Beardstown, Illinois

-- James Krohe Jr. on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Krohe was born and raised in Beardstown and Springfield by a family whose roots in the area date to the 1830s. A longtime contributor to Springfield's Illinois Times, Mr. Krohe is a journalist and critic who has devoted a forty-year career largely to the issues and places of Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

James Krohe's introduction to the state's history began as a young man, when he worked variously as a docent at the restored Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices in Springfield and on field excavations of both frontier and Mississippian-era archeological sites in the Sangamon and Illinois river valleys.In the 1970s he was the editor and designer and occasionally an author of a series of monographs published by the Sangamon County Historical Society under the title ''Bicentennial Studies''. He researched and wrote two of the most popular of that series, ''Summer of Rage: The Springfield Race Riots of 1908'' and ''Darkness at Noon: A History of Coal Mining in Sangamon County''. ''Summer of Rage'' introduced that event to a general audience, which led eventually to the riots being officially commemorated in the capital city by tours, markers, and brochures. In 2010 he authored the founding thirty entries in SangamonLink, the web encyclopedia of Springfield area history produced by the Sangamon County Historical Society. In 1977 Krohe was presented the Illinois State Historical Society's Award of Merit for the anthology, ''A Springfield Reader'', a book-length anthology of published writing about the capital city. He has also been a contributor and columnist at the Springfield weekly, ''Illinois Times'', from its founding in 1975 until the present. Krohe won the Illinois Press Association's "Best Column" award in 1994.Until the post was abolished, he was a long-time contributing editor at ''Illinois Issues'' magazine, the monthly of government and public affairs published by the University of Illinois, to which he contributed dozens of feature articles and essays of analysis (including reviews of works on state history) from 1978 to the present. Krohe also was contributing editor of the bimonthly magazine ''Chicago Times'' from 1989 until 1990 when the magazine closed, and served in the same position at ''Inland Architect'' from 1992 until its sale in 1994. In addition to his contribution to ''Inland Architect'', noted above, Krohe was a frequent contributor in the 1990s to the "Cityscape" department of the ''Chicago Reader''. In 2008 he edited and wrote introductory material for ''The Plan of Chicago @ 100'', a collection of essays about the work of Daniel H, Burnham, published to commemorate the centennial of Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago.His work appeared frequently in ''Nature of Illinois'', the journal of The Nature of Illinois Foundation, and I was a regular contributor to the column, "Politics and Policy," in ''Chicago Enterprise'' magazine, the monthly of the Commercial Club of Chicago, until it ceased publication. In addition to magazine and newspaper work, Krohe has written and/or edited several reports and studies for Illinois public agencies and not-for-profit organizations. Topics include conservation planning, child welfare, school district reorganization, drug education, energy conservation, solid waste policy, and historic preservation. Krohe's career as a national magazine journalist and critic began in 1975. His work has appeared in more than a dozen national magazines and newspapers, including ''The Nation'', ''Reader's Digest'', ''New York Times Book Review'', ''Chicago Tribune'', and ''Wall Street Journal''. For years, Krohe was a regular contributor to such magazines as ''Landscape Architecture'' and ''World Architecture'' (London), and has been a regular contributor to ''Planning'', the American Planning Association's monthly, since 1978.He authored one of three parts of a series on pollution and risk published by the American Bar Association's Student Lawyer magazine that won the Chicago Headline Club's 1985 Peter Lisagor Award for reporting and that year's award for editorial excellence from the American Society of Business Publications Editors. From 1978 until its demise in 2014, Krohe was a feature writer and contributing editor to the business journal ''The Conference Board Review'' (formerly Across the Board), published by The Conference Board in New York City. In addition to his history of mid-written two popular monographs published by the Sangamon County Historical Society and edited the society's anthology, ''A Springfield Reader''. In 1977 Krohe was presented the Illinois State Historical Society's 1977 Award of Merit for the anthology, ''A Springfield Reader'', a book-length anthology of published writing about the capital city.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Corn Kings and One-Horse Thieves: A Plain-Spoken History of Mid-Illinois
ISBN: 0809336022

Southern Illinois University Press. 2017

Winner, ISHS Annual Award for a Scholarly Publication, 2018

In Corn Kings and One-Horse Thieves, James Krohe Jr. presents an engaging history of an often overlooked region, filled with fascinating stories and surprising facts about Illinois’s midsection.

Krohe describes in lively prose the history of mid-Illinois from the Woodland period of prehistory until roughly 1960, covering the settlement of the region by peoples of disparate races and religions the exploitation by Euro-Americans of forest, fish, and waterfowl the transformation of farming into a high-tech industry and the founding and deaths of towns. The economic, cultural, and racial factors that led to antagonism and accommodation between various people of different backgrounds are explored, as are the roles of education and religion in this part of the state. The book examines remarkable utopian experiments, social and moral reform movements, and innovations in transportation and food processing. It also offers fresh accounts of labor union warfare and social violence directed against Native Americans, immigrants, and African Americans and profiles three generations of political and government leaders, sometimes extraordinary and sometimes corrupt (the “one-horse thieves” of the title). A concluding chapter examines history’s roles as product, recreation, and civic bond in today’s mid-Illinois.

Accessible and entertaining yet well-researched and informative, Corn Kings and One-Horse Thieves draws on a wide range of sources to explore a surprisingly diverse section of Illinois whose history is America in microcosm.


  • Award of Merit, Illinois State Historical Society, ''A Springfield Reader'', 1977

    Speaking Engagements

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