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7 Pieces Of History Near Prairie Grove, IL

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Prairie Grove, Illinois may be a small town, but it has a rich history with many significant events that have taken place in and around the area. Here are 7 historical events that helped shape Prairie Grove and left their mark on the town’s history.

1. The Black Hawk War - In 1832, the Black Hawk War broke out as Native American tribes, led by the Sauk Chief, Black Hawk, resisted the forced removal from their ancestral lands. The conflict came to a head near what is now Prairie Grove, where a battle ensued. The area now known as Blackhawk Park is named after the Sauk leader.

2. The Underground Railroad - Illinois was a free state, and many abolitionists in the area, including those in Prairie Grove, participated in the Underground Railroad, which helped escaped slaves find freedom in the North. The John Greenlee House in Prairie Grove served as a safe house on the Underground Railroad.

3. The Civil War - Although Illinois was a Northern state, it was not immune to the effects of the Civil War. In 1862, a skirmish took place near what is now the Prairie Grove Cemetery as Union soldiers attempted to stop Confederate guerillas from crossing the Fox River. Additionally, many residents of Prairie Grove served in the Union army during the war.

4. The Fox River Grove Train Wreck - On October 25, 1995, a deadly train crash occurred just outside of Prairie Grove. A school bus full of children was stopped at a railroad crossing when it was hit by a Metra train, killing 7 students and injuring dozens more.

5. Alfred Dreyfus Exile - In 1895, the Jewish French army officer Alfred Dreyfus was falsely accused of espionage and sentenced to exile on Devil’s Island in French Guiana. In 1898, a retrial acquitted him of the charges, and as part of his rehabilitation, he was sent to the United States on a study tour. One of the stops on his tour was in Prairie Grove, where he spent several days and was hosted by local residents.

6. Early Settlers - The first settlers arrived in the area that would become Prairie Grove in the 1830s. Among these early pioneers were the Keims, who founded the Keim Tract, a large area of farmland north of Prairie Grove. The Keim family also established the Keimdale Vineyard, which was a successful winery for many years.

7. The Prairie Grove School - The Prairie Grove School, originally built in 1867, was a one-room schoolhouse that served the community for over a century. It was eventually replaced by a modern school building, but the original building was preserved and now serves as a museum that provides a glimpse into what education was like in the 19th century.

In conclusion, Prairie Grove may be a small town, but it has a rich and varied history that encompasses events ranging from war and tragedy to heroism and cultural exchanges. These 7 historical events are just a few examples of the many significant moments that have taken place in and around this special community.
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