American history, the 2018 Illinois Bicentennial and DeKalb County history all came together Saturday in one program.
The occasion was the dedication of an Illinois Bicentennial Bench by the Gen. John Stark Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The chosen location is outside the new DeKalb County History Center near the old office of the Sycamore History Museum.
The Stark chapter regent, Mary Pritchard, covered several aspects of American, Illinois and local history in her presentation to the crowd gathered in the history center’s meeting room.
The local chapter was named after a Revolutionary War general who served in the Continental Army. He is known as the “Hero of Bennington” for his exemplary actions during that battle in 1777. He also fought with George Washington at the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. A statue of Stark can be found in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.
Pritchard said coincidentally the history center and DAR bench are located on land originally owned by Marshall Stark whose three daughters, a niece and great-niece, were charter members of this chapter when it was formed in 1907. The local pioneer acquired the land the same year that DeKalb County was created in 1837. No direct family connection has been made between Marshall Stark and the general.
The DAR is committed to historic preservation as well as education and patriotism. The local chapter has marked other sites and sponsored monuments around the county. The most prominent site is on Rich Road east of its intersection with North First Street. A granite marker commemorates the first court session held in the county in the cabin of Rufus Colton in 1837.
Another DAR project was a marker recognizing John Sebree, the first white settler in the county. He built a cabin off Somonauk Road just south of Route 30 near the current railroad tracks in 1834.The original site marker was moved to Hinckley’s Pioneer Park in 1942 at the request of the railroad.
Mary also talked about DeKalb County becoming part of Illinois and not Wisconsin in 1818. The northern boundary of Illinois was originally drawn from the southern tip of Lake Michigan running across the southern edge of DeKalb County to the Mississippi River. But Nathaniel Pope, an Illinois delegate to Congress at the time, pushed through an amendment to the bill creating the new state, moving the border 61 miles to the north taking some 8,500 square miles of Wisconsin territory, thus giving his new state more access to Lake Michigan.
I should mention that the DAR welcomes women into membership who can prove they are direct descendants of Revolutionary War patriots. For information, visit the DAR website at www.dar.org.
• Barry Schrader can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL 60115. Past columns can be found on his website at www.dekalbcountylife.com.