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Doors Open: Pope County Historical Society Museum

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The Pope County Historical Society welcomes people from everywhere and especially people of Illinois to tour the society

In 1966, several members of the community met in the home of Mrs. Kathryn Hamilton to organize a historical society so that generations to come would know about the struggles and successes of their ancestors. The founding families of Pope County crossed the country to the new territory from such places as South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Germany, and Great Britain to name a few. Many came to get away from slavery, many to find a new life, all were courageous, meeting the unknown with enthusiasm and strength. Golconda, because of its ferry, grew into an important stop to those moving west, many chose to stay in Pope County, cleared the land and made homes for their families. At the height of river traffic, Golconda became a center of export for these farmers, sending their produce to distant ports. With the close of the river age, Golconda settled into a quiet river town struggling to survive. During the depression many farmers were on the verge of losing their land. The federal government stepped in to help this community by purchasing the land which had been played out from years of farming and developed the Shawnee National Forest. The Pope County Historical Society opened a museum in 1966 in a historical house across from the beautiful courthouse square to display the lives of those who brought civilization to the Illinois Territory. From furniture to personal mementos, the museum introduced Pope County to visitors and residents. Unfortunately, in 1988, all was destroyed by fire. Immediately the Society purchased another historic home and through the generosity of the community, began to build another tribute to our ancestors. The Historical Society purchased and has restored a commercial building on Main Street. Built in 1906 for the Watson Hardware Store, the back of the building has been converted into a meeting room and display rooms and the main room in front is the main display area for the newest museum.The Pope County Historical Society Mission Statement reads: "In order to maintain a living history of Pope County, Illinois and the people who influenced its development, both in its past and in its current history, the Pope county Historical Society Museum will, through a review process, collect, preserve and display items which directly relate to the development of the county limits. This includes memorabilia from current activities that are of special meaning to our community." Items you will see: sofa and chair used in the caboose of the train that ran this route, military displays, doctor's instruments, photographs, paintings, kitchen and bedroom areas, old time school room, items from country stores, bank memorabilia, quilts, antique piano, a buggy, children's toy collection, a tusk of a mammoth that was discovered on the banks of the Ohio River in 1926, ladies' hats, clothing and many other antique items. We are located at Main Street and Columbus Avenue.

During the Civil War ( 1861-1865) this region of the lower Ohio River valley served a strategic importance, second only to the nation’s capital. From here, Federal land and naval forces gathered to launch campaigns to remove Confederate strongholds from the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Mississippi rivers. In Mound City, hundreds of workers built and repaired river gunboats, including three of the famous Eads ironclads. Near the shipyard sat one of the largest military hospitals in the West with the capacity to treat 1,500 sick and wounded soldiers and sailors.Many of the patients arrived aboard the USN Red Rover, the navy’s first hospital ship. The Sisters of the Holy Cross, a Catholic congregation of Notre Dame, Indiana, served as nurses aboard the Red Rover and in the hospital. A cemetery site one mile from Mound City received its first military burials in 1862. The army negotiated the purchase of the ten-acre site for $750 from the Cairo City and Land Company The Soldier’s Cemetery as it was known, held the remains of thousands of military burials when it was established as a national cemetery in 1864. A caretaker’s lodge was built on the grounds in 1880, based on a plan created by Montgomery C. Meigs, Quartermaster General of the Army The Mound City National Cemetery lodge is a simple Victorian-style building with a gabled roof and features an L-shaped floor plan. In 1997, the lodge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and restored. The Mound City National Cemetery Preservation Commission uses the building for its monthly meetings and to display items of historic interest. In February 1867, Congress approved an act to establish and protect national cemeteries. The law directed each cemetery would be surrounded with a “substantial stone or iron fence “ and each grave would be marked with a small headstone or block. For many years, national cemeteries were popular gathering places for large July Fourth and Memorial Day events. Today the Mound City National Cemetery honors the sacrifice of 9,000 veterans. Every episode of American war and peace since the Mexican-American War ( 1846-1847 ) is represented among those at rest here. The Commission holds a Memorial Day program, every year at the cemetery, on the Saturday before Memorial Day. The Commission also holds a “Wreaths Across Americaâ€ù program in December of each year. The Mound City National Cemetery is open to the public.

Event Details

Aug 04 to Aug 05, 2018


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