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Settled in the early 1800s, Grundy County is alive with a rich and deep history that continues to develop today. The area’s special attributes are well-known to local historians, and many locals enjoy sharing in annual events that promote historical education and preservation.

Ginny Bellamy, President of the Grundy County Historical Society along with Vice President Ellie Anderson speak with great excitement and knowledge about the area’s history. The area was occupied by Native American Indians; the early 1800s witnessed the arrival of the first white settlers and as they say, the rest is history.

The Society works hard to preserve the past. There are several programs offered every year that highlight different aspects of the area’s history. These programs are intended to both educate and entertain which allows residents and visitors alike to enjoy the benefits of taking a step back in time.

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“We try to plan programs that would be of interest to both men and women of the area since both are members,” said Anderson. The Society also works to have area businesses participate in its programs. The most obvious example of this is the annual Nostalgia Days Event where local businesses display artifacts from the past in its windows.

Anyone who takes the time to enjoy Nostalgia Days will undoubtedly be delighted with the displays available for viewing. The Society has numerous historical objects available for viewing at the Grundy County Courthouse. These include objects from the area in addition to several display cases featuring WWI and WWII memorabilia and artifacts from the Civil War era.

Local objects include:
• Clothing worn by the Hoge families. Mr. William Hoge is one of the founding pioneers of the area.

• A black bonnet worn by Mrs. Armstrong who came to the area in 1831. The Armstrongs were instrumental in building the I&M Canal and the City of Morris as the county seat.

• A parlor that features an old player piano and several pieces of Victorian Furniture.

• Old dolls from several of the pioneer families.

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In addition to the objects available for viewing at the Society, Bellamy points out that the “City of Morris is very architecturally significant. There are lots of old buildings that are historically significant as well.” Additionally, the area is well-known for its fossils. Formally the basis for a prehistoric lake, the area’s strip mining industry has helped to uncover numerous fossils throughout the years.

Located on the Illinois River, visitors to Morris will not be disappointed with the time spent there. Relaxing in the friendly atmosphere created by locals, visitors are sure to leave with fond memories and a respect for the historical depth of the area.

A LOOK BACK:
Significant Dates in Grundy County History

1830 Isaac and William Hoge buy land at government sale.

1832 Chief Shabbona of Pottawatomie Indians leaves Sauk Chief Black Hawk to warn white settlers of war.

1835 First permanent settler William Hoge builds log schoolhouse on his property and pays teacher $2.50 per week.

1837 Many relics found during excavation of I&M Canal (Illinois & Michigan). As many as nineteen burial mounds found along canal and Illinois River.

1841 Grundy County is incorporated by state legislature. Formerly, Grundy County was a part of LaSalle County. Courthouse was built by Wm. Armstrong.

1846 Thin vein of coal found at the bottom of I&M Canal bed.

1853 Rock Island Railroad built rail through Morris.

1854 Chief Shabbona died and he is currently resting in the Evergreen Cemetery, Morris.

1850s Shaft mining opened in Morris.

1883 Diamond mine disaster.

1913 Fox and Illinois Union Interurban Railroad came to Morris: serving Morris to Aurora.

1928 Construction on Morris airport was started.

1928-1974 Strip mine spoil piles expose more fossils.

1933 Deep water way opened up Illinois River.

1952-1960 William G. Stratton, resident of Morris, becomes Governor of Illinois.

1955 Francis Tully discovers Tully Monster, an ancient sea creature that dates back about 300 million years ago. The Tully Monster is the Illinois State Fossil.

1960 Dresden nuclear power plant was built and it was the largest in the world at the time. Route 80 opened from Walker Corner East to Route 66.

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