Seven Things You Might Not Know About Hennepin

1915 Harvest Home Celebration
As Hennepin prepares for festivities during its bicentennial celebration this weekend, event organizers planned a number of modern-day activities as well as history-based programs.

The weekend wraps up with cruises on a paddlewheel riverboat. Showboat cruises once were a big attraction at Hennepin.

Here are seven other things you might not know about the village.

1. Hennepin predates Illinois

Illinois became a state in 1818 with 34,620 residents. Kaskaskia was the capital, and most people lived toward the south along forested areas and rivers.

Hennepin celebrated its birth in 1817 with the creation of a trading post on the northern side of where the current village is. It’s presumed to be the first non-native building in Putnam County.

2. Hennepin holds the oldest working courthouse in Illinois

Putnam County’s courthouse in Hennepin is the oldest courthouse in use in Illinois. The structure was built in 1839 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

3. Dixon Waterfowl Refuge offers similar views to what early Hennepin settlers saw

On Saturday, Sept. 23 people will be able to take part in a 5k walk/run at the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge in Hennepin that looks similar to what would have been there naturally at the time Hennepin was settled with backwater lakes, marshes, seeps, wet and dry prairie, savanna and forest, among other habitats.

Suzanne Wagner of The Wetlands Initiative said the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge isn’t exactly the way the land would have been when people settled Hennepin because there’s a levee now, but the habitats are similar to what the land looked like in the early 1800s.

The Hennepin and Hopper Lakes, south of Hennepin, were drained for farming for most of the 20th century, according to the Initiative. In 2001, the Initiative turned off the drainage pump. The refuge is now a 3,000-acre natural area open 365 days a year to the public.
Seven things you might not know about Hennepin

Pictured is the Harvest Home celebration in 1915 in front of the Hennepin United Methodist Church. The celebration has been going on for 105 years and will be celebrated in conjunction with the Village of Hennepin’s bicentennial celebration this year.

4. There’s someone buried as far back as 1832 in Riverside Cemetery

There are some interesting people buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Hennepin, and you can see their graves and hear their stories during the bicentennial celebration.

The Putnam County Historical Society is going to put on a cemetery walk in Riverside cemetery in Hennepin from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23.

Bicentennial committee member Teresa Clausen said some of the people you’ll learn about are:

Elijah Philips was murdered in 1832 when he was 16. He was killed 16 miles northwest of Hennepin by Native Americans. The story is he left Hennepin to look after cattle, and arrived in present-day Bureau County at a place called Ament’s Cabin. There was a sugar grove next to the cabin that had been sacred to the Native Americans.

He was shot twice and then the Native Americans used tomahawks to kill him.

Williamson Durley lived from 1810 to 1901. He and his brother Madison were outspoken advocates of ending slavery. Abraham Lincoln knew of the Durleys’ and asked for their support to win a seat in Congress. The Durleys are ancestors of Walter Durley Boyle, who was Illinois’ longest-serving state’s attorney and still was practicing law until his death at age 94 in 2008. In the Jan. 21, 2006, NewsTribune, A “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!” comic ran that depicted Walter Durley Boyle’s 40 years as Putnam County’s state’s attorney and included a sketched likeness.

David Deck was born in 1848 and came to Hennepin in 1852. He ran away to join the Union Army in 1864. He fought in several battles, including one with Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman when Atlanta was captured.

5. Harvest Home celebration has been going on for more than 100 years

The bicentennial is being celebrated this year in conjunction with Harvest Home, which has occurred in Hennepin for more than 100 years. It’s normally held on the third Saturday of September.

The Hennepin Methodist Church is sponsoring a Harvest Home chicken dinner this year on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Sandy Hrasch, a volunteer with the church, said Harvest Home celebrates the fall harvest. She said it’s been a tradition for 105 years that has always included a chicken dinner and is about thanking God for a bountiful harvest.

6. The logo for the bicentennial was created by a former fourth grade student

Last school year, the bicentennial committee chose the design of Isabelle Brown of Magnolia for the logo. The contest had been open to fourth-grade students of Putnam County Elementary. The students had been doing a unit on local Putnam County history.

7. There are no “West” streets in Hennepin

West Hennepin originally had been plotted across the Illinois River, said bicentennial committee member Quentin Buffington. He learned about this through looking at maps and talking with people through the years. Almost 90 years ago, before the lock and dam system, the Illinois River often was much lower, and there was a ferry that transported people across to west and east Hennepin. So, Hennepin has East Court Street, East High Street but no West versions of those streets.

Source: News Tribune