#SmallTownSaturday – Princeton, Illinois

After a few short years of hiatus, #SmallTownSaturday is back!

This month, we are looking at the town of Princeton in Bureau County, Illinois. The county was established in 1837, with Princeton as the county seat.

Figure 1: Bird’s eye view of the city of Princeton, Bureau County, Illinois circa 1870s

Princeton was formed in the early 1830s as a transplant colony for the Hampshire Colony Congregational Church of Northampton, Massachusetts. It became a stop of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad in the 1850s and began expanding quickly. Abraham Lincoln himself stopped in Princeton in 1854. Lincoln gave a well-attended speech in Bryant Woods on the Fourth of July 1854.… Read More

#SmallTownSaturday – New Salem, IL

New Salem State Park Postcard (PD)

This week for #SmallTownSaturday, we’re traveling back to the place Abraham Lincoln first called home as an adult in Illinois – the village of New Salem – near what’s now Petersburg, IL (pop. 2,299)!

New Salem’s origins can be traced to 1828 when James Rutledge, originally of South Carolina, and his relative John Camron, originally from Georgia, moved their families from Kentucky and settled on a bluff overlooking the Sangamon River’s west bank. There, Rutledge and Camron hoped to build a dam and a grist- and sawmill. They petitioned the state for permission to dam the river and began construction in early 1829.… Read More

#SmallTownSaturday – Macon, IL

Illinois Central Railroad #14713, a ventilated fruit car dating from 1893.

Today we’ll visit Macon, IL (pop. 1,204) for #SmallTownSaturday!

Located in central Illinois within Macon County, the city of Macon is nine miles south of the county seat Decatur. Situated in the famous corn belt of Illinois, Macon lies midway between Chicago and St. Louis. The low and level prairie was thought unfit for agriculture around its early settlement, but has since become a major producer of corn, along with hay and oats.

The foundations of Macon, and the county itself, are rooted in the development of the railroad in Illinois. In 1834, Governor Joseph Duncan proposed a train line to run through Decatur.… Read More