Tiskilwa: "Gem of the Valley"
Located in Bureau County about six miles south of Princeton in the valley of Bureau Creek is the small town of Tiskilwa. Tiskilwa was founded as two separate villages in 1836, one as Windsor and the other called Indiantown after the Indian village that was located here prior to white settlement. The two merged in 1840 and the founders named the new town Tiskilwa after an Indian word that means "Gem of the Valley." The town was founded where one of the branches of the Galena Trail, the first road in Northern Illinois (connecting the river port town Peoria with the lead mining boom-town Galena) crossed Bureau Creek (to see the other place where the Galena Trail crossed the creek, Princeton's Red Covered Bridge, click here).
Today Tiskilwa is a nice small town of fewer than a thousand people in the scenic Bureau Creek valley. On Main Street is the Tiskilwa Historical Society Museum in the old Methodist Church building. The museum has many exhibits and special presentations, and in 2010 it was named the "Volunteer Institution of the Year" in the state of Illinois. To visit the historical society's website, click here.
To see other Bureau County unincorporated communities south and west of Tiskilwa, continue to scroll down.
Lone Tree: One Room Country School House
South of Tiskilwa about eight miles on the old Galena Trail is Lone Tree. It is named after a large burr oak tree that once stood alone on the open prairie that served as a landmark for pioneer travelers. At one time a small town, today there is nothing remaining of Lone Tree except a farmstead and the Lone Tree School that was built in about 1875. The school is a reminder of the many country schools that once dotted the Illinois landscape. To see a picture of the school's students in 1910, click here.
Boyd's Grove was once a small town in Bureau County southwest of Tiskilwa. It was named after Charles Boyd, one of the first settlers in the county who owned a two story log cabin that served as a tavern for travelers on one of the two branches of the Galena Trail. Today the only reminder of the town is the Boyd's Grove United Methodist Church that was founded in 1851 and is pictured above.
Oak Hill Cemetery
About four miles west of Tiskilwa is the Oak Hill Cemetery that was founded in 1837, making it one of the oldest cemeteries in the county. The cemetery is perched on a hill that provides wide vistas of the surrounding farmland. Even though it was founded in 1837, you won't find any markers from the 1830's in Oak Hill Cemetery. The first pioneers, when then died, had wooden markers (if any at all) that decayed long ago. It wasn't until the middle of the the 19th century that stone craftsmen who could make gravestones moved into the area, and you can find stones here beginning with that era.