The Busey Family

Contributions made to the Development of the City of Champaign Urbana

Patricia Plaut

Summer Fellowship 2009


Abstract: When you go to a new community, what in the community tells you about its history?  Students will be looking at the city of Champaign Urbana and determine who might be some of the influential people in its past. Students will look at the Busey family in particular and their contributions to the Champaign Urbana area. They will analyze primary sources, secondary sources, and link some of these to national events. Students will get a richer understanding of their community by looking at many of the buildings, a wooded area, a cemetery, and street names.  Locating names of some of the Busey descendents in the family tree will be part of a scavenger hunt.


Essential Questions/Enduring Understanding:

á     Where does one look to find information about the history of oneŐs community?

á     How are people remembered in their community decades or even centuries later?

á     What are the differences between primary and secondary sources?

It is hoped that after the completion of the unit all students will realize the vast amount of information available that could be used for further exploration of the history of their city.


Assessments: Class contributions to discussions and readings are a large part of this unitŐs assessment. Worksheets will help guide the students to understanding.  A final summary questionnaire will be handed out to each student where his or her thoughts and memories will be assessed.


Setting the Purpose: The purpose of the set of lessons is two-fold. The first purpose is to get a better sense of their community through one family, the Busey family. Secondly, it is hoped that students will get an understanding that there is a fair amount of information to be uncovered about their community and that this information is within their reach.  This unit is intended to reach students in grades 4-8.


Duration:  The entire unit will take 10-13 days. Many parts within a lesson could be deleted to shorten the unit.


Lesson 1: Students will look at a Champaign Urbana map and focus on the street names of a portion of Urbana. They will be asked to consider why streets get named as they do. They will then look at a census noting the top 20 most used names for streets in the US.


Lesson 2: Students will look at current photos of a city street sign, a cemetery statue, business marquees, school marquee, university dormitory marquee, a cemetery, a golf course, and a preservation wooded area. They will discuss what might be a common thread with all these locations.


Lesson 3: Primary and secondary sources, Busey Bank founders, and the Busey family tree are the topics in this lesson. 


Lesson 4: Students will read and understand the reasons why Busey Woods has remained a wooded preservation park in Urbana. Who were Elizabeth and Catherine Jane who donated the land?


Lesson 5: Memorial Stadium and Charles Bowen Busey are linked.  Students will learn the reason for the University of Illinois Memorial Stadium through part of a video. The book, The Story of the Stadium lists Charles Bowen Busey as one of the killed veterans. His son, Charles Bowen Busey Jr. was only three years old at the time. The Busey family tree will be expanded.


Lesson 6: The Busey family contributed Urbana Country Club and Woodlawn Cemetery land. The Busey family plot is located at Woodlawn Cemetery.


Lesson 7:  A wrap up: another look at the map and photographs viewed in lesson 2 and a discussion on what they have learned so far. They will write down their thoughts on a worksheet.


Further investigations, optional: Additional sources are provided if the students and teacher feel they would like to continue with more locations that are somehow related to the Busey family. Included are: Carrie Busey School, Urbana population statistics from 1860- 1950 and Busey Bank capital and deposits from 1868-1961, the first court case in Champaign County, Busey mansion on 502 Main, Urbana, and Urbana Free Library.


List of Materials and Resources: At the end of the lessons


Annotation of Materials: Listed when used in each of the lessons.