About the Book

The popular 1990s television show, Seinfeld, has often been described as a show about "nothing." This is definitely a book about "something." In fact, at times, it seemed to become a book about "everything." A timeline history of any community becomes limitless, and it’s with that character that this book came to life.

The genesis of this book began in 1971, when we purchased a large two-story pink house in Rochester. As repair and remodeling began, we discovered a tintype of a man holding two children on his lap. It generated curiosity and a fascination with the previous homeowners and with our new community.

The man on the tintype we found, Rev. T. B. Wright, built our house. He was holding his children, David and Mary. Rev. Wright’s stories began in Virden, Illinois, continued in Rochester, and then extended halfway around the world. He is only one Rochester resident who appears in this book.

Cotton, Violins & Shots in the Night: A Timeline Visit to Rochester, Illinois, features a unique approach to history. Whereas most histories focus only on major events and important people, Cotton, Violins & Shots in the Night: A Timeline Visit to Rochester, Illinois, also describes lesser-known occasions and otherwise obscure individuals equally as vital to this growing community.

Instead of chapters, Cotton, Violins & Shots in the Night / A Timeline Visit to Rochester, Illinois is arranged by decades from pre-1800 to the present. Each decade begins with a brief timeline, followed by stand-alone, non-sequential storylines and pictures that provide a glimpse into Rochester during that decade. An index and references are provided for those who wish to carry out extended studies of Rochester history.

The availability of this book at this time marks a pivotal period in Rochester’s history:

  • Rochester’s first homestead by the McCoy family, 200 years ago
  • Rochester incorporating as a village, 150 years ago
  • Illinois statehood, 200 years ago

We hope you enjoy your time travel through the this fascinating history of our village and also learn to understand the wonderful sense of belonging that comes with living here.

Ray Bruzan
Pam Bruzan