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Tours of Historical Village Well Received

Gail Rawson, Director of Facility Scheduling at JALC, leads a public tour of the Harrison-Bruce Historical Village Tuesday afternoon. (Logan Media Services photo)

Gail Rawson, Director of Facility Scheduling at JALC, leads a public tour of the Harrison-Bruce Historical Village Tuesday afternoon. (Logan Media Services photo)

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – Word is just now beginning to circulate throughout the region that both public and private tours of the newly built Harrison-Bruce Historical Village on the John A. Logan College campus are now available through the college’s scheduling office (618-985-3741, X8209).

The village is made up of four pieces – Purdy School, a one-room schoolhouse; a replica of Herrin’s landmark, Harrison House; the Hunter Log Cabin; and the Robert L. Mees Village Centre.

The first round of public tours was held Tuesday on site. The next round is set for 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Nov. 6 and 20. There is no charge.

Leading tours Tuesday were: Gail Rawson, Director of Facility Scheduling at JALC; Cheryl Trench, lead docent or guide for the village; Phillip Stucker, a volunteer docent; and Janada Schaubert, another volunteer docent; and Rosemary Mathis, volunteer docent for Purdy School.

“We’re trying to get people in the community informed about what we have to offer here with this historical village,” Rawson said. “Thanks to the Harrison-Bruce Foundation and the support of the college, this project has become a reality. It is our hope that a number of elementary, junior high and high schools in the region will utilize this resource as a way to help teach history of the region.”

Cheryl Trench, lead docent for the Harrison-Bruce Historical Village, observes a tour of the Hunter Log Cabin. (Logan Media Services photo)

Cheryl Trench, lead docent for the Harrison-Bruce Historical Village, observes a tour of the Hunter Log Cabin. (Logan Media Services photo)

Trench said it’s a “wonderful contribution” made by both the Harrison-Bruce Foundation and the college to make help make history come to life.

“Thanks also to former JALC president, Dr. Robert Mees, who had the vision to make this village possible,” she said. “I think it has huge potential from a tourism standpoint, as well as an educational standpoint. And this village centre is a wonderful place for weddings, receptions, and meetings. Right now, we have four buildings, but the hope is to add to this village in the years ahead.”

Trench said motorists along Illinois 13 can take notice of the village and turn into the college campus to view the buildings up close.

The HUNTER LOG CABIN was built by Emmanuel Hunter in 1818, the same year Illinois became a state. Hunter, who was opposed to slavery, had chosen to move to Southern Illinois from his native Tennessee. The cabin was located northeast of Marion and was eventually deeded with 40 acres of land to Elijah Lodge Grant.

Grant and his descendants maintained the cabin for the next 120 years.

In February of 2005, Richard Hunter purchased the cabin from Wendell Grant. Hunter then donated the building to the Jacob Hunter Trust, named after the Revolutionary War soldier, Jacob Hunter, who was Emmanuel Hunter’s father.

In July of 2005, the Jacob Hunter Trust donated the cabin to John A. Logan College.

PURDY SCHOOL served as a one-room schoolhouse in southern Perry County from around 1860 until 1951. After the school was closed due to consolidation, it remained in use as a polling place for voters.

In 1981, it was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Harold Rice. The Rices made the school a gift to the JALC Foundation for its use as a museum that represents early public education in Southern Illinois. The building was moved to the campus in 1983, and since that time, more than 8,000 students from the region have visited this unique piece of Americana.

The HARRISON HOUSE is a replica of the famous Herrin home first built by David Ruffin Harrison in 1868, some 32 years before Herrin became incorporated as a city.

Harrison lived in the home with his first wife, Julia A. Walker Harrison, and their children. His mother, Delilah Phillips Herrin Harrison, also resided there as did his second wife, Elizabeth “Libby” Fellows Backus Harrison.

Harrison served as Herrin Prairie’s first postmaster, established the first bank, and helped organize the Baptist Church and Masonic Lodge. With the original house too dilapidated to move from Herrin to Logan, the Harrison-Bruce Foundation paid to have a replica built this year on campus.

The ROBERT L. MEES VILLAGE CENTRE serves as the hub of the Harrison-Bruce Historical Village by providing a venue for college and community events. After the May 2009 storm wreaked havoc on the region, including thousands of dollars worth of damage to school property, it was decided that the centre would be properly equipped to serve as an incident command base in the event of another emergency on campus.

The centre can now be fully powered by a portable generator and has been wired for multiple-line telephone and Internet capability.