Norma Jean Elephant

Norma Jean was 30 years old in 1972 and working the Clark and Walters Circus. It was a small circus playing for small towns where elephants are a delight to small children. On the morning of July 17, in Oquawka a very ominous summer thunder storm roared east across the Mississippi River. The 6500 pound Norma Jean was chained to the only tree on the town square. While the trainer was attempting to undo the chain, a bolt of lighting came down from the dark sky and struck the very tree which held Norma Jean. July 17, 1972 was Norma Jean's last show day.

With permission by the state of Illinois, Norma Jean was interred on the spot where she had fallen. The grave is marked with a large boulder, and with a hand laid monument erected of local stone holding a headstone.

 

 

Allaman Covered Bridge

Erected on 1866 the Allaman covered bridge is located on Illinois route 164, 3 miles south of Oquawka, spanning Henderson Creek at the state rest area. The bridge is one of 3 structures located in Henderson County placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 104 foot long structure was reconditioned after flood damages in 1982. The scenic surroundings are used through the year for festival, weddings, and rustic gatherings, in general.

 
Phelps House  

The Phelps House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the New England style of architecture. The two story frame house was erected in 1832-33 on a high point along the Mississippi River for Alexis Phelps in Oquawka.

 

Alexis and his brother, Sumner, who came to be successful business men, were long standing friends of both Lincoln and Douglas. The Phelps House has been completely refurbished and is available for luncheons and receptions by appointment at (309) 768-2403 or (309) 627-2069.

Alexis Phelps was born in Palmyra, New York in 1800. He cam to Illinois in 1820 settling first near present day Springfield and later at Lewistown. In 1827 he moved to the Galena Area where he became engaged in mining and smelting lead.

 

He moved to Lower Yellowbanks (Oquawka) in 1830 where with his brother Stephen Sumner Phelps they formed the fir of  "A & SS Phelps." They engaged in an extensive fur trade with the Sac and Fox Indians and were good friends of Chiefs Tama, Keokuk, and Blackhawk. Their brother William established trading stations on the Des Moines River where Farmington and Ottumwa Iowa not stand. William was the husband of Carolina Phelps who wrote a diary of her experiences in the wilderness.

 

Alexis Phelps married Cornelia Day in 1833 and built this house for their home. It was the first frame house in this part of Illinois. The siding is made from black walnut as were the original shingles.

 

In 1842 Alexis contracted to build the Henderson County Courthouse for $1219.00. This courthouse is presently the second oldest courthouse in Illinois still in use.

 

Stephen A. Douglas presided at the first session of Henderson County Circuit Court in 1841, and returned many times thereafter. While holding court he was often a guest in this home and is reported to have slept in the south-east upstairs bedroom.

 

 Alexis Phelps died December 11, 1846 of a "Congestive Chill" following a trading trip to the Indians in Iowa. It has been reported that Abraham Lincoln sat with the family at his funeral. Alexis was a member of the Oquawka Presbyterian Church and that church's bell was rung for the first time at his funeral. The church and it's bell are still in use although it is now the Oquawka Methodist Church.

 
South Henderson Church

Old south Henderson Church - 4Miles east of Gladstone. The Ivy graced, large, striking, old stone structure was rebuilt in 1855 and still provides services on occasion. Daniel Boon's Granddaughter, Elizabeth Robbin, is buried in South Henderson Cemetery. The grave is plainly marked. The graves of three Veterans of the Revolutionary War are also easily located.

Henderson County Court House

The county of Henderson was created by an act of legislature effective January 1, 1841. Oquawka has been the county seat since that time. The 4 large, white columns and south portion of the building we see today are that of the original structure. It is the second oldest court house in Illinois still in continuous use. Judge Stephen Douglas held the first court in

 

Oquawka. 1993 was the 150th anniversary of the completion and dedication of the grand old Court House. The Court House was honored and commemorated with a special gala event during the 1993  Heritage Trail Days Festival always held the last full weekend of September.

Barack Obama Monument

In 2009, a monument was erected to commemorate a visit on July 31, 2004 to the village by then candidate Barack Obama for state senator. He was elected to the senate on November 2, 2004 and bacame the nation's 44th president on November 8, 2008.

 
Veteran's Monument

This monument was dedicated to all veterans of Oquawka township who were killed in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf

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Abraham Lincoln Monument

Near the site of this monument, Abraham Lincoln was introduced by J. H. Stewart to a crowd of nearly 1500 where he delivered a speech using the same language as his "House Divided" speech.

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Civil War Monument Park

Civil War Monument Park: Located on Route 164, one block south on Schuyler Street in Oquawka. The monument was dedicated on July 4, 1887 by the citizens on Henderson County to remember the 200 soldiers killed in the Civil War.

 

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Oquawka Museum

The Oquawka Museum was first conceived for Oquawka's sesquicentennial celebration in 1986. Located at 2nd Street and Schuyler, it houses artifacts of the Oquawka area. The museum has available for sale the year 2000 Oquawka calendars with 12 historic photos of the town. The museum is open by appointment and during Heritage Trail Days the last weekend of September. For more information call Rosalie Melvin (309) or 867-5451Candy Holeman (309) 867-3237. You may write to Oquawka Museum, R.R.1 Box 102, Oquawka, IL 61469-9701

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Henderson County Museum

In 1976, the Henderson County Historical Society opened the Henderson County Museum in Raritan, IL. Objects depicting local history are on display in the museum which is open to the public by appointment and on weekends during the summer. The museum consists of 4 buildings, the main museum which is the old Raritan Elementary School building, the Graham School building, a blacksmith shop and a building housing antique farm equipment and vehicles. Wonderful displays that organized and presented in educational scenes. For more information call Jim Cook 309-746-6103. Visit the Henderson County Museum.

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Horse and Buggy Museum

This museum in Biggsville, IL offers visitors a glimpse into the past. Exhibits and programs interpret the period from 1820 to 1920 when horses were a primary source of power for farming and transportation. Over 50 pieces of machinery are displayed inside a 6000 square foot building. On the wall of the main exhibit area, 16 excellent prints are displayed. These paintings show in unbelievable detail the way it was when the horse was the main power source. The museum also has one of the largest video collection in the U.S. of draft horses performing farm operations. Visit the Web Site

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