AREA HISTORY

Stephenson County is rich with history. Visit the Stephenson County Historical Society at the Taylor Mansion, ride the Silver Creek & Stephenson Railroad Antique Steam Train and pay respect to memorials and monuments all throughout Freeport and Stephenson County. Stop by our many historical monuments, landmarks and museums to travel back to the early years of Stephenson County’s history and prosperity.


Blackhawk Monument 

The second of two Lincoln points of interest in Stephenson County is the Blackhawk Monument that honors those killed in the Black Hawk War, including the final Illinois battle of 1832 in what is now known as Kent. After serving as captain of the Illinois militia, Abraham Lincoln returned to help bury five of the slain men.

Find the Blackhawk Monument south of US 20 near Kent, located on the site of Kellogg’s Grove – an early settlement established in 1827 on a mail route between Peoria and Galena, and now on the National Register of Historic Places.

ADDRESS:
14109 W Blackhawk Rd.
Pearl City, IL 61062


All Veterans Memorial Park

Breaking ground on June 17th, 2005, All Veterans Memorial Park is dedicated to honoring and remembering the veterans of Stephenson County. A Gold Star Family Memorial is dedicated to those who have given their lives for our freedom.

The park contains large era stones from all past conflicts with benches surrounding concrete walkways and a large brick memorial garden. Thanks to the generosity of the community for the last 10 years, this memorial continues to build new additions.

ADDRESS:
2850 S Walnut Rd.
Freeport, IL, 61032


Silver Creek Museum + Antique Steam Train

All aboard the Silver Creek and Stephenson Railroad Antique Engine Steam Train in Freeport! This historic train is equipped with a 36 ton 1912 Heisler steam locomotive, three passenger flatcars and an antique red caboose – reported to be the oldest in the state. Hop aboard for a four-mile ride through farmlands and across the bridge over Yellow Creek. Make sure to stop back in the fall for the Train of Terror!

The Steam Train is housed next to the Silver Creek Museum – originally known as the “Poor House” for those less fortunate to live, work and be supported. The house has since been converted into a museum with each room representing a different facet of Freeport’s history, including antique crockware, Rawleigh manufacturing artifacts and veterans’ memorabilia.

ADDRESS:
2954 S Walnut Rd.
Freeport, IL, 61032


Taylor Mansion (Stephenson County Historical Museum)

The Taylor House, a cornerstone to much of Freeport’s rich history and now the headquarters for the Stephenson County Historical Society, has been transformed into a historical museum to preserve local history. The house, otherwise known as “Bohemiana,” built in 1857, served as a “station” on the Underground Railroad during the American Civil War and was frequented by many famous people of the day, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horace Greeley and Jane Addams.

The Taylor’s devoted their energy to creating an on-site arboretum and today it contains the largest variety of old trees in the county. On the property you will also find a Farm Museum, a relocated one-room schoolhouse, and a log cabin from 1840. Stop by the Taylor Mansion on Adams St. for an impressive representation of Northwest Illinois in the 19th century.

ADDRESS:
1440 S. Carroll Ave
Freeport, IL, 61032


The Soldiers’ Monument – A Civil War Memorial

Designed by General Smith D. Atkins and erected in 1871 the Soldiers’ Monument – an 83-foot tall, limestone obelisk monument – is an American Civil War Memorial.

A statue of Victoria – the Roman goddess of victory – originally topped the monument, but was destroyed by lightning in 1960. The statue was returned to her pedestal after an absence of 55 years in 2015 after several years of fundraising. Marble tablets at the base listing the names of Stephenson County’s Civil War casualties were reversed and covered by bronze plaques to allow space for all of the county’s Civil War veterans in 1924. Four 7-foot statues at the corners of the base, also replaced in 1924, represent soldiers from each major branch of the Union military: the Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and Navy.

The monument was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1998. Find the Soldiers’ Monument in historical downtown Freeport, located at the Northern corner of Galena Ave. and Stephenson St. next to the Stephenson County Courthouse.

ADDRESS:
15 N Galena Ave.
Freeport, IL, 61032


Vietnam Memorial

Designed and sculpted by local Cedarville artist Eric Donaldson and dedicated in 1987, the Stephenson County Vietnam Era Veterans Memorial represents the missing man. Perched on a base of black granite, the bronze statue is a full-size M-16 with a bayonet stuck in the ground and a helmet on top. Dog tags hang from the trigger guard inscribed with the words “POW/MIA” and a pair of combat boots stands in front of the M-16. On the rear of the memorial are the thoughts of the Vietnam veterans.

This memorial can be found on the same block as the Soldiers’ Monument, on the Southeast corner in front of the Stephenson County Courthouse.

ADDRESS:
15 N Galena Ave.
Freeport, IL, 61032


Lincoln Douglas Debate Square & Statue

On August 27, 1858, the most significant of the historic Lincoln-Douglas debates took place in Freeport, IL and gave the nation direction in succeeding years due to the famous Freeport Doctrine. While Stephen Douglas kept his seat in the Senate after the debates, his reply that each state should be perfectly free to do as it pleased in regards to slavery, no matter the ruling of the Supreme Court, stirred a sentiment of betrayal among constituents that would come back to haunt him in his bid for President in the election of 1860. Abraham Lincoln’s point that “a house divided could not stand,” his belief that Americans of every race were entitled to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and his stance against Douglas’ advocacy for popular sovereignty were what ultimately led to his election later on.

Visit the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Square in historic downtown Freeport, next to the Union Dairy, to see the first statue ever erected to include both Lincoln and Douglas in commemoration of the debates that influenced US history. This landmark is one of two points of interest for Lincoln history in Stephenson County.

ADDRESS:
114 E Douglas St.
Freeport, IL, 61032


Jane Addams Burial Site

Located in Cedarville off Route 26 you will find Jane Addams Burial Site. Jane Addams, the first female Nobel Peace Prize winner and known as the “mother” of social work, is most famous for her social activist work and affiliation with the Hull House – a settlement house for European immigrants.

Her death sparked a public outpouring of grief worldwide and she remains a prominent figure in both national and local history. Addams’ family plot is market with an obelisk in Cedarville Cemetery, a short distance from her birthplace at the John H. Addams Homestead.

ADDRESS:
W Red Oak Rd.
Cedarville, IL 61013