Land of Lincoln. The Prairie State. The Garden of the West. The Corn State.
I have a particular reason to be familiar with Illinois; my husband Jerry is descended from the marriage of Stephen Mack to Princess Hononegah.
The family story goes like this: Stephen Mack was the first white settler in Illinois, and because of that, the only one the local tribe trusted. He arrived in the early 1920s as a fur trader; he’d actually been headed for Bird’s Grove, but missed a turn and ended up in Grand Detour – which gave me a laugh the first time I heard the tale. I wondered if the town had been named before Mack arrived, or after. Mack traded with the Potawatomi, eventually marrying Hononegah. In 1835, Mack founded the town of Pecatonica where the Pecatonica River meets the Rock River; eventually, the town became known as Macktown. He established a ferry across the Rock River and later built a bridge. He died in 1850, the bridge washed out in 1851, and the town was slowly deserted. Today, it’s been revived as a Living History Education Center, complete with present-day people portraying the parts of the Mack family. The original house is still there, as is the trading post, and the community is slowly being rebuilt. Jerry’s family held a family reunion there in 2000.
In other trivia, Chicago is the second of twelve U.S. cities to host professional teams from all four major sports, holding the distinction since 1966 – Basketball (Bulls), Baseball (Cubs and WhiteSox), Football (Bears) and Hockey (Blackhawks). Chicago also boasts the world’s first skyscraper – the Home Insurance Building, built in 1885 – and the tallest building on the North American Continent – the Sears Tower, at 1,451 feet. Metropolis, the home of Superman, is in southern Illinois, Des Plaines is home to the very first McDonald’s, and Abraham Lincoln is buried just outside Springfield at Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site.
Places to go
Macktown – Rockton
**Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum – Pontiac
**Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum – Springfield
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Stuff to see
**Pollard’s Collection – Salem
**Two-story Outhouse – Gays
**Kaskaskia Dragon – Vandalia
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Things to do
**Haunted Decatur Ghost Tour – Decatur
**Eagle Watching – Alton
**Winter Horseback Riding – Golconda
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** denotes places and events I have no personal experience with – YET!