New Philadelphia, Illinois is the first known town in the United States to have been established, planned, and registered by an African American man. The town, founded by “Free” Frank McWorter in 1836, reached its peak population in 1865 with 160 individuals and 29 households. It was a racially integrated community long before the Civil War.
Frank McWorter was born a slave in South Carolina. In his early twenties, he was able to purchase the freedom of his wife, Lucy, for $800. Two years later, he purchased his own for the same price. Eventually, Frank bought the freedom of at least 15 family members, including his children, by working at a saltpeter mine.… Read More
*Originally posted on August 26, 2017*
The wait is over! This week we’re traveling to Kaskaskia (pop. 14) in southwestern Illinois.
The modern day town of Kaskaskia is actually the sixth settlement named Kaskaskia in Illinois. The first Kaskaskia was located near present-day Utica, Illinois, across the Illinois River from Starved Rock. The village, named after the Kaskaskia tribe inhabiting the area, moved south along the Illinois River until it reached its present location in 1703. It was there that French traders settled down with the Kaskaskia and the Jesuit missionaries who had accompanied the tribe on their migration.… Read More
*Originally posted on August 12, 2017*
This week we’re traveling to the hilly northwest corner of Illinois! Today’s #SmallTownSaturday is Galena, IL (population 3,255).
Although the official town of Galena was organized in 1826, Native American tribes had lived in the region for hundreds of years prior to the creation of the city, mining the natural lead found around the area. In fact, the town name stems from galena, the term for the natural form of lead sulphide.
As settlers came to the area to make their fortunes mining the natural minerals in and around Galena, the town attracted some important figures in U.S.… Read More
We’re travelling to Lincoln, IL (pop. 13,969) for today’s #SmallTownSaturday feature. (It also happens to fit in with our Abraham Lincoln theme for January, what a coincidence!)
While there are many towns in the United States named after the 16th president, Lincoln, IL is the only town that was named after Abraham Lincoln before he was elected president in 1860.
Abraham Lincoln’s involvement in the area now known as Lincoln, IL (then named Postville, IL) goes back to his days as a lawyer in the 1830s and 1840s. At that time, Postville was located in Sangamon County, the same county as Springfield, IL, where Abraham Lincoln lived and worked.… Read More