#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

#SmallTownSaturday – Bishop Hill, IL

Jansonist Colony, Steeple Building, Main and Bishop Hill Streets, Bishop Hill, Henry County, IL

The story of this Western Illinois village begins across the ocean in Sweden. There, in the early nineteenth century, a Landberga farmer and flour salesman named Erik Jansson claimed to have experienced two extraordinary events. The first came when Jansson – a sufferer of rheumatism for much of his life – was plowing a field in 1830 and collapsed. Lying on the ground, he began to pray and was miraculously cured. The second event occurred during a visit to the market where Jansson, in his own words, heard the voice of Christ instructing him to “take up my cross and preach my gospel to all who will listen.” And so he did.… Read More