Tag Archives: history

Native American Speaker at Savanna Museum and Cultural Center

Saturday, March 19th, 2016 2:00 PM

Kim McIver, Native American of the Ojibwa tribe will be a guest speaker at the Savanna Museum and Cultural Center, 406 Main Street, on Saturday, March 19th at 2:00pm.

Kim, is a talented speaker, performer, as well as publisher and self publisher of award winning books. She will bring to life, music and stories of her Indian Culture.

The Ojibwa (said to mean “Puckered Moccasin People”) have a number of spiritual beliefs passed down by oral traditions. These include a creation story and a recounting of the origins of ceremonies and rituals. Spiritual beliefs and rituals were very important to the Ojibwa because spirits guided them through life.

The Ojibwa crafted the dreamcatcher. They believe that if one is hung above the head of a sleeper, it will catch and trap bad dreams, preventing them from reaching the dreamer. Traditional Ojibwa use dreamcatchers only for children, as they believe that adults should be able to interpret their dreams, good or bad, and use them in their lives.

United States, they have the fourth-largest population among Native American tribes,

A $5.00 donation will be appreciated.

Stone Arch Bridge

Text by Alice Horner
Color Photos by Gene Stubbe


map-buttonStone Arch Bridge on the Galena Road Where Abraham Lincoln Camped
34070-34128 Chambers Road
Lanark, Illinois 61046

Almost everyone who has traveled Highway 52/64 in Carroll County between the Ogle County line and Lanark has noticed the rest stop. And they probably wondered why there would be a rest stop on a 2-lane road in Carroll County that wasn’t particularly scenic. At this rest stop is a historical marker, which also seems unusual for this part of Carroll County. But indeed it’s important, because it describes the stone arch bridge just across the road and slightly south, and claims it was very near this bridge in 1832 where Abraham Lincoln camped as a private during the Black Hawk War.

The Stone Arch Bridge, that stands to the east of the present highway, was on the Galena Road, once the most important trail in northern Illinois. Along this route innumerable people streamed northward to the lead mines near Galena every spring and many returned southward in the fall. The movement was likened to that of the fish called Sucker, from which the State received its nickname.

This portion of the road from Dixon was surveyed in 1830 as the road from Woodbine Springs to Ogee’s Ferry (later Dixon’s Ferry, now Dixon), replacing the longer 1825 Kellogg’s Trail and the 1826 Boles’ Trail. Roads from Peoria and Chicago joined at Dixon and continued as one to Galena. Mail and stagecoach lines traveled the Peoria – Galena route as early as 1830 and the Chicago – Galena route by 1834. Here the road intersected the earlier Gratiot’s Trail, which also ran from Dixon to Galena but extended farther north to avoid the rough terrain.

During the Black Hawk War in 1832, militia and regular army troops marched on both trails. Abraham Lincoln, as a private in the company of Captain Elijah Iles, camped overnight near here, June 8 and 12. As a private in the independent spy company of Jacob M. Early, Lincoln made a forced march to Kellogg’s Grove (near Kent), arriving there June 26, the day after the last battle fought in Illinois during that War.

Isaac Chambers, who was not only the first settler of Ogle County at Buffalo Grove near Polo but also of Lima Township here in Carroll County, operated a stage coach inn nearby and a sawmill on Elkhorn Creek two miles to the southeast. (From the Goodly Heritage Pg. 107)

The stone arch bridge is in Section 21 of Lima Township, and on private property. It’s not easily accessible through dense undergrowth, muddy soil and numerous brier patches. But these pictures show the bridge as it is today. Only the west arch of the bridge remains. Most of the east arch and the probably barrel vault at the roadway are gone (or perhaps covered with dirt and debris). Only the stones at the top of the east arch are visible.

It was not possible to get down into the stream bed or onto the east side of the arch. There are many more stones visible on the top of the west side of the arch.

The stones are rough hewn, and probably came from rock close at hand. There is a rock quarry just north of the site, but obviously from a more recent era and possibly still in business. How much rock outcropping was visible and accessible to stone masons of the 1830s era I don’t know. And I have found no record of who those stones masons were.


I don’t know much of the history of this bridge after Lincoln decamped. Judging from two photographs perhaps taken in the 1960’s the area surrounding this bridge has changed a lot in just fifty years. The Carroll County Historical Societies Historic Sites & Trails Map of 1967 features this black and white photo of the bridge which shows most of the bridge.

The photographer was apparently standing in the dry stream bed, facing the west side of the bridge and you can easily see through to the other side. The photo must have been taken in late autumn, because there are no leaves on the trees and there is also little vegetation near the base of the arch. Is it possible the east side of bridge could so completely fill up with soil and debris in the last fifty years?stone-arch-brigde-carroll-county-illinois-from-carroll

The other photograph is on Page 107 of “Carroll County, A Goodly Heritage,” which was published in 1968.

Presumably this photograph was also taken around 1967, but it features lots more vegetation than what shows on the 1967 map photo, although much less than there is now. This photo was taken in spring or summer but they look so different it’s hard to believe both photographs were taken within a few years or maybe even a few months of one another.

It doesn’t appear that the area immediately surrounding this bridge has ever been plowed, and perhaps not often grazed either. The test in Carroll County, A Goodly Heritage accompanying the photograph indicates the bridge can be viewed from the highway but that isn’t true now either, unless it’s visible in winter, when all the leaves are off the trees.

But seeing this site probably gives us a good idea of how the area might have looked when Lincoln camped there. Samuel Preston’s “History of Carroll County” reminds us that much of the area in 1836, which became Carroll County, was heavily forested. Lincoln and his fellow soldiers were a spy company, there to examine the countryside and look for Indians. They wouldn’t have camped out in the middle of the prairie where they would have been more easily seen, and they camped in the summer, when there was plenty of vegetation. Presumably there were few travelers along the road, owing not just to the early time but to the fact that the Black Hawk War was being fought just thirty miles to the North.

Original Source

Civil War Soldiers And Sailors Monument

Location: Court House Square, Mount Carroll, Illinoismap-button
Dedication: October 6, 1891
Medium: Barre Granite
GPS Coordinates: N 42° 06.079 W 089° 58.724

Located in Northwest Illinois, Mount Carroll became the county seat of Carroll County in 1843. Carroll County was originally a part of Jo Daviess County until 1839. It was named for Charles Carroll, a United States Senator from Maryland and the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence. On October 24, 1884, a number of Carroll County Civil War veterans organized the Soldiers and Sailors Reunion Society of Carroll County. At a subsequent meeting, D. W. Dame recommended that the society build a monument to honor the 1,284 Civil War veterans of Carroll County. Most of the men fought under Generals Grant, Sherman, McPherson, or Logan. They fought in Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, or Tennessee. The society members suggested that the monument be placed on the courthouse square in Mount Carroll. The county board voted to contribute $6,000.00 for the project, and the city of Mount Carroll provided $400.00 to construct the cement steps and background.

Lorado Taft was a member of a team of artists who was commissioned to create the Carroll County Civil War Soldiers And Sailors Monument. George H. Mitchell designed the monument, and Josiah Schamel constructed the foundation. John C. Hall designed the annex that was added later when county officials determined that there were many names missing from the original honor roll list. The monument consists of a fifty-foot vertical shaft with a Lorado Taft sculpted soldier holding a flag at the top. Lewis H. Sprecher of Lanark posed for the statue and made several trips to Taft’s Chicago studio to model for it. Two additional statues are attached to the base of the monument, one an infantryman and the other a cavalryman.

Just below Taft’s statue at the top of the monument are eight engraved symbols representing the various army groups that the men of Carroll County fought in during the Civil War. The monument also includes the names of the twelve battles that the men of Carroll County fought in: Atlanta, Chickamauga, Corinth, Fort Donelson, Gettysburg, Hatchie’s Bridge, Nashville, Resaca, Shiloh, Stones River, Vicksburg, and the Wilderness. The following words appear on one face of the monument: “Carroll County: To The Memory Of The Men Who Saved The Union That Their Example May Speak To Coming Generations.” The short phrases “Slavery Abolished” “Peace Restored” and “Courage – Endurance” flank the monument on the other three sides. Two large cannons are positioned on either side of the monument, and a pyramid of cannon balls rests on the ground near the rear of the monument.

The Carroll County Civil War Soldiers And Sailors Monument was unveiled and dedicated in Mount Carroll on October 6, 1891, before a crowd of more than 5,000 people. County Superintendent of Schools John Grossman declared a school holiday on that day, and hundreds of students and teachers attended the dedication ceremony. Carriages full of attendees came from Savannah, Thomson, Lanark, and Shannon. The city was decorated with bunting and flags, and meals were served to the guests by hotels and churchwomen. A band from Savanna led a parade of marchers that included members of various Grand Army of the Republic posts, the Knights of Pythias, the Select Knights of America, and school children. Mount Carroll Mayor N. H. Melendy gave the welcome speech, and J. M. Hunter addressed the assembled soldiers and civilians.

The Carroll County Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument was rededicated exactly a hundred years later on October 6, 1991. Two Civil War reenactment groups participated in the celebration. The 121st Illinois Regiment conducted a daylong Civil War encampment, and Battery G of the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery fired the cannons near the monument. Lt. Col. Warren Sweitzer addressed the assembled crowd and thanked the Carroll County Board for constructing the monument a century earlier.

civil-war-soldiers- sailors-monument-carroll-county-illinois
Original Source


The communities of Carroll County feature a wide variety of exciting attractions. Whether you enjoy antiques, art, culture, history, heritage, museums, outdoor activities, theater, or shopping, Carroll County has what you need for an Illinois weekend getaway vacation. So bring your curiosity and cruise on into Carroll County to enjoy the interesting things in life!

County History

Charles Carroll

Charles Carroll

Carroll County was organized in 1839, and was named for Charles Carroll, a wealthy landowner and politician from Maryland. He was one of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, and incidentally, was the last of the signers to die. The honor of naming the County was bestowed upon Isaac Chambers, the first settler in the County. Since Charles Carroll was one of the political heroes of the day, and since many settlers were originally from Maryland, Mr. Chambers decided to name the County after him.

Savanna was the largest community in the County and they wanted very much to have the county seat in their town. During the 1800’s, it was quite an honor for a town to be voted county seat. In 1839, there was a vote taken and Savanna won by 41 votes.

Over the next four years, there was much quibbling concerning boundaries and so forth. In 1843, another vote was taken and Mount Carroll became the County seat. That’s how it has remained ever since.

Carroll County Waterways

In the 1830s, settlers arrived in the Midwest from the East and Canada to claim government land grants. They required lumber in large quantities. The most efficient means of transporting timber, at that time in history, was by water. The “Mighty Mississippi” and its tributaries played a significant role.

Over the next eighty years, those old timers used the river to float timber downstream to the mills for processing. White pine logs would float from winter through summer. Growth of the Great Plains States was possible largely because of the Mississippi and its tributaries.

The First Water Powered Mill In the Nation

Many mid-western cities and towns had their earliest beginnings along the banks of a creek or river where early settlers would have easy access to water. Carroll County’s village of Milledgeville was no exception.

An enterprising millwright, by the name of Peters, saw the possibilities and settled on Elkhorn Creek bottom in 1834. Falling sick, Peters gave up his claim to Jesse Kester, who improved the property by building a saw mill. It was from this mill, and the settlement which grew at the edge of it, that “Mill-edge-ville” soon derived its name.

Kester’s saw mill was said to be the first in the country to be powered by water. The mill quickly grew into a large business and people for miles around brought their logs, by ox team or horse drawn wagon, to be sawed into lumber for their homes. The logs were cut from the groves of trees which stood in the area.

Kester subsequently sold out his claim to Adam Knox, who added a grist mill. Settlers hauled their grain to the mill to be ground into flour, took home what they needed, and left the rest at the mill to be sold. This new mill soon became the nucleus of the settlement of Milledgeville. People came to trade and get their mail, which was brought by stagecoach.

The mill had a number of owners over the years. During the boom years of the 1880s, an addition was built onto it. With the installation of mill rollers, an 1885 issue of the Milledgeville Free Press described the mill as having “the latest in equipment for making flour”. It was said, in its day, to be one of the best-equipped mills in Carroll County.

Eventually, production of wheat by area farmers diminished. When there was no longer any need for a flour mill, the old mill finally closed down in 1901. Within five years, the mill was dismantled and sections of the original building were moved to various village locations to create structures for new businesses or portions of private residences.

A Public Hanging

The only public hanging in Carroll County took place on May 16, 1873, in the courtyard of the courthouse in Mt.Carroll. Joseph O’Neil was tried for the murder of a man named Rexford and was sentenced to hang. During this time O’Neil was in prison awaiting the day of his hanging, he nearly was successful in escaping. He had removed a cornerstone in the exercise area outside his cell and had dug with his hands and later with a tin cup, and then hid the dirt under his bed in a pillow case. He was discovered one day before he would have escaped. Many of the townspeople came to witness the hanging.

The Marcus Train Robbery

In 1902, the Marcus Train Robbery occurred in Carroll County. On the night of August 5th, three men lay in wait for a train on the Burlington line. About four miles north of Savanna, the train was flagged down by a man with a red lantern. When the Conductor noticed the switch was partly open, he realized the train was about to be plundered.train-robbery-sketch

Three masked men put the engineer and fireman under guard, uncoupled the express car and engine. Continuing up the track, they blew open the safe with nitroglycerine and rifled the contents. One of the men was accidentally shot by a discharge from the gun of his companion. They uncoupled the engine from the express car and attempted to make an escape with their wounded companion.

Believing the injured man to be mortally wounded, they killed him and threw his body from the engine. At Apple River bridge, they abandoned the engine allowing it run on until it stopped beyond Hanover. The men escaped in a skiff at Apple River and headed for Iowa where they hid the loot and went on.

However, the dead theif was quickly identified. This lead authorities to apprehend the two others involved. Once the two were captured, they confessed. While in the Carroll County jail, the prisoners made several desperate attempts to escape, but their efforts were thwarted by the vigilance of sheriff, D. B. Doty. They were convicted of highway robbery with deadly weapons and sentenced to the state penitentiary for life.

Carroll County Now

Today, the county has two railroads: the Burlington Northern and I C & E Rail Link. Although this may seem like a strange fact, Carroll County has only one stop light. It is located in Savanna at the intersection of Routes 64 and 84.

Additional Resources:


Free Download

History of Carroll County Illinois 1878.PDF

Author: Kett, H.F., & co., Chicago, pub
Publisher: Chicago, H.F. Kett & Co.
Language: English
Call Number: 53529
Digitizing Sponsor: CARLI: Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois
Book Contributor: Sauk Valley Community College Learning Resources Center
Notes: Page numbering from 217 – 222 is incorrect, although text appears contiguous.

History & Heritage

A working model of early Savanna and its’ railroads, at the Savanna Museum & Cultural Center


Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies
203 East Seminary Street
Mount Carroll, Illinois 61053

Visit our website

Fourteen-acre campus listed on National Register for Historic Places.  Three to five day courses on collections care and conservation.

map-buttonCounty Courthouse
301 North Main Street
Mount Carroll, Illinois 61053

Carroll County History

The northernmost and oldest section of the current courthouse built in 1843. Listed on the National Register for Historic Places.

Downtown Mount Carroll, National Register Historic District

Visit Mount Carroll’s Historic District. More than 30 different historic sites.

Monument Park
Main Street
Savanna, Illinois 61074

This small area describing early settlement in Savanna hosts the monument commemorating the Aaron Pierce family, the first settlers of Savanna.

Oakville Complex
Timberlake Road
Mount Carroll, Illinois 61053

Carroll County Historical Society – Oakville Complex

Consists of an 1888 schoolhouse, two log cabins, a blacksmith shop and granary. Located between Oakville Cemetery and Oakville Country Club. Open by appointment.

map-buttonOwen P. Miles Museum
107 West Broadway
Mount Carroll, Illinois 61053

1873 Italianate home depicts 1800s life.  Call for seasonal hours.

map-buttonSavanna Museum and Cultural Center
406 Main Street
Savanna, Illinois 61074

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Over 80 mannequins in authentic Civil War uniforms, native son & famous big-band musician Wayne King memorabilia, and an active railroad model of early Savanna.  Call Ann at the number above for more information, to check hours, and/or to schedule a visit.

map-buttonSavanna Train Car Museum
25 Main Street
Savanna, Illinois 61074

Open May through October, Sunday 10:00 – 3:00, Thursday 12:00 – 4:00, Friday and Saturday 11:00 – 4:00.

map-buttonSoldiers & Sailors Monument & Annex
301 North Main Street
Mount Carroll, Illinois 61053

Monument by Lorado Taft dedicated in 1891 to commemorate the 1284 Carroll County men who lost their lives in the Civil War.

map-buttonThomson Depot Museum
907 Main Street
Thomson, Illinois 61285

Built in the late 1800s. Exhibits, old photographs, newspapers, land grants, railroad memorabilia, furniture & clothing.