Monday, May 29, 2023
The Bridges Tavern and Store site, located on the Trail of Tears in western Johnson County, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The original log structure has been protected from the elements for years by this barn that was constucted around it. The historic site includes approximately nine acres on the north side of Illinois Route 146.

Johnson County site added to National Register of Historic Places

Efforts by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to preserve and promote the state’s heritage paid off in 2017 with 25 properties being added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The places recognized are scattered across the state and include two archaeological sites along the Cherokee Trail of Tears, a Chicago movie palace, and the place where Lincoln and Douglas met to schedule their senatorial debates.

Places are added to the register by the National Park Service based on recommendations from the IDNR State Historic Preservation Office.

The 25 places (plus amendments to four historic districts already listed in the register) were added throughout 2017.

“These new additions to the National Register of Historic Places each helps tell the story of Illinois through the rich history of our state,” said IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal in a news release.

“Thanks to the efforts to local community leaders and local preservationists, we are delighted to help obtain national recognition for these historic buildings and neighborhoods.”

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of properties that merit special attention and preservation.

Every Illinois county has at least one property or historic district listed in the National Register.

Together, they represent a cross section of the Prairie State’s history from its early settlement to the mid-20th century.

In general, properties have to be more than 50 years old to be eligible for the National Register.

A listing places no obligations on private property owners, but does make properties eligible for some financial incentives.

The local 2017 additions to the National Register from Illinois were:

Bridges Tavern and Store Site, Buncombe vicinity, Johnson County and Campground Church and Cemetery Site, Anna, Union County.

Between 1837 and 1839, over 10,000 Cherokee traveled along the “Trail of Tears,” as part of their forced emigration to the West.

Two Illinois properties associated with the trail’s history were listed in 2017.

The John Bridges Tavern and Store site contains the archaeological remains of a nineteenth century tavern; a nineteenth century log building known as the “Wayside Store;” a spring that would have provided water for Cherokee travelers and their livestock; and, a series of post-1940 structures.

Oral histories from the 1930s state that the Cherokee purchased supplies at the Bridges Site Wayside Store while traveling along the Trail of Tears.

The Campground Church and Cemetery Site was used by members of the local Presbyterian church for religious camp meetings and the burial of the deceased children of at least one member of the congregation.

Oral histories collected in the 1930s indicate that local settlers allowed the Cherokee to camp at this location and bury their dead in a grave site next to the deceased children of congregation member George Hileman.

Two springs that the Cherokee used to obtain water for themselves and animals are located in a wooded area south of the church.