Print Friendly and PDF With Strings Attached: Bishop Hill, Monmouth, and on to St. Louis (with quilts!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bishop Hill, Monmouth, and on to St. Louis (with quilts!)

The Steeple Building

Colony Church
Bishop Hill was founded in 1846 when a charismatic Swedish pietist named Erik Jansson and 1100 followers journeyed from Sweden to western Illinois (walking the last 150 miles from Chicago).  The colony flourished with 14,000 acres, a steam-powered flour mill, a furniture shop, a brick yard, a wagon maker, and a dairy.  They cultivated broom corn and bought broom-making equipment from the Pleasant Hill Shakers.
Colony Hotel (back, showing light well) 
In 1850 Jansson was murdered in a dispute over a Janssonist girl marrying an outsider.  Administration of the colony was turned over to a board of trustees.   In 1857 bad investments ruined the colony's finances.  In 1861 most of the able-bodied men enlisted in the Union Army.  Loss of funds and loss of manpower culminated in the dissolution of the colony in 1861.

The State of Illinois owns several of the historic properties and others have been privately restored.  The town has 150 people and there are many "event weekends" held each year. 

I first read about Bishop Hill in a New Yorker magazine article in the mid 1970's.  I finally got to see it!
"American" sewing machine

Monmouth College, in the city of that name, is about 35 miles from Bishop Hill.  Two women's fraternities were founded there:  Pi Beta Phi in 1867 and Kappa Kappa Gamma in 1870.  Kappa's Stewart House was closed today, but I took pictures of the exterior.  Pi Phi's Holt House was open and the curator provided a thorough tour. 

quilt made for Grace Coolidge
these are diamonds,
not squares

I took IL-67 south from Monmouth and got to St. Louis just after 5:00.  It's time to start thinking P.E.O.!

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