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McHistory: 19th Century Cabbie Saw All Of Bloomington-Normal Society

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Absalom Hawkins was a hack driver during a time when there were three basic means of public transportation in Bloomington-Normal. He was a very popular choice to drive around town and was instantly recognizable by his manner and dress.

Here is a profile of a man who drove vice presidents and governors, wealthy landowners, visiting artists, and the prominent of Bloomington-Normal all about town more than a century ago.

During Black History Month, this episode of McHistory shows you the working life of Absalom Hawkins, a well-known African American man in the Twin Cities. It also tells you about a 19th century brain drain of African Americans.

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Those who became educated had to leave the area to get jobs outside the working class. 

McHistory is a co-production of WGLT and the McLean County Museum of History, using the words of those who have come before, to remember the way we used to be, and sometimes to think about how we still are.

Subscribe to the McHistory podcast.

People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.

WGLT News Director Charlie Schlenker grew up in Rock Island and graduated from Augustana College. He has spent more than three decades in radio.