Bethel School, Cisco, IL

Historic Bethel School in Decatur Illinois

Bethel School at Cisco, IL, near Decatur, IL. 

     The first Bethel School was built in Section 7 of Friends Creek Township, Macon County, IL, and was an 1850’s log structure.  By 1890 with a donation of land from John Brown in Section 8 the current Bethel School was built.  For nearly 56 years the school served the neighborhood students until 1946 when it was closed as part of a statewide trend in the 1940’s and 1950’s when students were transferred to larger schools. Purchased by Sam Kohler, the Bethel School was moved to his property about a mile south to be used as an implement and tool shed.   With the purchase of his property in 1969 by the Macon County Conservation District, the school was moved yet again in 1982 a short distance to its present location as part of Friends Creek Conservation Area. From 1982 to 1985 with help from several donors including the Winings Trust along with dedicated volunteers and staff it was restored to its current appearance.  The clapboard building still has much to teach about the way America used to learn how to read, write, and do `rithmetic in the era before yellow buses, teacher in-service days, and homework assignments posted on the Internet.  Visitors can walk among the small cluster of desks and see how they were easily watched and patrolled by the lone teacher.   Friends Creek Conservation Area, located at 13734 Friends Creek Park Road, Cisco , IL 61830, is 4.5 miles from Argenta.

Home School Book Review

     You are invited to visit the fellow blog to this one, Home School Book Review, at .  This is the place to find book reviews, primarily of children’s literature and works for teens and young adults, from a Biblical worldview by a homeschooling father.

     Some of the books that have been reviewed and posted this past month include the following:
Nov 26th, 2011: The Barber Who Wanted to Pray by R. C. Sproul
Nov 25th, 2011: Elsie Dinsmore by Martha Finley
Nov 21st, 2011: Secrets of the Magic Ring by Karen McQuestion, a new fantasy story for ages 6-11
Nov 17th, 2011: Meet Me in St. Louis by Sally Benson, the basis for the 1944 MGM musical movie
Nov 16th, 2011: A Year Without Autumn by Liz Kessler, a new fantasy story for ages 9 and up
Nov 14th, 2011: Runt the Brave by Daniel Schwabauer
Nov 13th, 2011: Outlaw by Stephen Davies, a new technical thriller for teens
Nov 12th, 2011: Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton, a classic
Nov 6th, 2011: The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
Nov 5th, 2011: Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Nov 3rd, 2011: Dear Christian Parents: An Appeal for Homeschooling by Stacey Durham, a gospel preacher and homeschooling father

     If you’re interested in looking for a particular title, researching books by a specific author, or finding books in one of the listed categories, a search feature is available.  Find out if a particular book is deemed suitable for reading by godly families or not.

     Some books which we are currently reading and for which reviews should soon be posted are these:

The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart
The Redskins by James Fenimore Cooper, author of the Leatherstocking Tales
Treasures in the Dust by Tracey Porter, junior historical fiction about the Great Depression
Homework Made Simple by Ann K. Dolin
Runt the Hunted by Daniel Schwabauer, sequel to Runt the Brave

     New reviews are added nearly every day.  Also, if any reader of this blog has written a book which you would like to have reviewed and posted on Home School Book Review just contact me at for information on how to submit your book.

More on Biblical Homeschooling

     As I said in yesterday’s blog, I publish a free e-mail homeschooling newsletter known as Biblical Homeschooling.   It is a nonthly newsletter of general interest, encouragement, and information for homeschooling Christians which is divided into four parts, one of which is mailed each week of the month. 

     The articles planned for the December issue, the first part of which was e-mailed today, are as follows:

     December, 2011
Table of Contents
From a speech delivered by HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris
at the Christian Home Educators of Ohio conference on October 7, 2010
by Gena Suarez
By Marybeth Hicks (9/7/2011)
By Jonathan Chaffin
By Morris Hafley
By Jonah Goldberg (9/8/2011)
By Bill Bumpas, OneNewsNow (9/11/2011)
By Robert Knight (9/14/2011)
From Home School Legal Defense Association
by Cheryl Moeller (Thursday, September 15, 2011)
By Becky Yeh, OneNewsNow California correspondent (10/3/2011)
From KFNS, Fresno, CA (September 29, 2011)
By Andrew O’Hehir (Sunday, Aug 29, 2010)
by Wayne S. Walker
15. COURAGE IN CAPTIVITY (Daniel Chapters 3-6ff)
By Wayne S. Walker
By David Cortman
by John Stossel (10/26/2011)
All schools – even parents at home – may be forced to teach gov’t agenda
By Bob Unruh, World Net Daily (November 2, 2011)
By Christopher Wuehler, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine (Monday, March 7, 2011)

     Again, anyone interested in receiving this free e-mail newsletter can send a blank e-mail to and then follow the instructions e-mailed back to you or you can subscribe from the web at if you have a Yahoogroups ID.

“Biblical Homeschooling”

      I publish a free e-mail homeschooling newsletter known as Biblical Homeschooling.   It is a monthly newsletter of general interest, encouragement, and information for homeschooling Christians which is divided into four parts, one of which is mailed each week of the month.  

      By way of example, here is the “monthly meditation” from the Nov. issue

by Wayne S. Walker

     “O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker” (Psalm 95:6).  Worshipping God has always been an important aspect of the lives of those who love God.  The very first thing that we learn about Cain and Abel is that they offered sacrifices to God.  The very first thing that Noah did when he came out of the Ark was to build an altar to the Lord.  The very first thing that Abraham did in every place was to build an altar to God.  The very first thing that the Israelites did when they crossed the Red Sea on dry ground was to sing praise to the Lord.
     Worship should also be important in the lives of Christians today.  We are to worship the Lord our God (Matthew 4:10).  We must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).  The early church assembled often for worship, and especially on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).  Therefore, when the church assembles for worship, we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is but exhort one another as we see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).  When we thus come together, we can “offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).
     However, worship is not limited to the assemblies of the church.  Prayer is an act of worship.  “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  Singing praise to God is an act of worship.  “…Is anyone cheerful?  Let him sing psalms” (James 5:13).  We do not need to be gathered with the church in a worship assembly to pray and sing.  This does not mean that we can neglect the worship assemblies of the church, but in addition to that, we can pray and sing as families in our homes and/or as individuals on our own–at any time.  As homeschoolers, we can actually make it a part of our educational curriculum!  There is even a sense in which our entire lives are to be offered as sacrifices in worship to God (Romans 12:1).  Therefore, at every opportunity, “Let us worship.”

     Anyone interested in receiving this free e-mail newsletter can send a blank e-mail to and then follow the instructions e-mailed back to you or you can subscribe from the web at if you have a Yahoogroups ID.

Maple Grove School, Landis Valley Museum, Lancaster, PA

Maple Grove School at Landis Valley in Pennsylvania. 

     The Landis Valley Museum, 2451 Kissel Hill Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601(717/569-0401), a living history village and farm, collects, preserves and interprets the history and material culture of the Pennsylvania German rural community from 1740 to 1940 and enhances understanding of their successful practices, interactions with others, and the impact on the state and nation for citizens of and visitors to the Commonwealth.  When brothers Henry Kinzer Landis (1865-1955) and George Diller Landis (1867 – 1954) opened the museum in 1925 at their Landis Valley residence, the area had been a small Pennsylvania German settlement since the mid 1800s.   The authentic one-room Maple Grove schoolhouse was built at Leola, PA, in 1890.  It was relocated in 1970 from its original site and restored.  The schoolhouse is complete with authentic furnishings.  A schoolmarm in period costume will give students lessons from the late 1800’s in subjects such as arithmetic, spelling, and reading geared to children in 2nd through 8th grades.

Lincoln Almanac Courthouse, Beardstown, IL

Original Courthouse in Beardstown, Illinois

     The “Lincoln Almanac Courtroom,” also known as the Beardstown Courthouse, is located in the city of Beardstown, IL, where IL St. Hwy. 125 runs into U. S. Hwy. 67.

     According to , the Beardstown Courthouse, Third and State streets in Beardstown, Illinois, was put on the map, so to speak, by Abraham Lincoln when he tried a murder case two there years before he was elected president.  The town, about 45 miles northwest of Springfield, in the heart of Illinois farm country, was settled around 1820 by Thomas Beard of Ohio.  Lincoln’s association with the town goes back to August, 1832, when he was living in New Salem and piloted a Texas-bound family and their household goods on a raft down the Sangamon River to Beardstown.  The following April he volunteered for service in the Black Hawk War and marched from New Salem to Beardstown, where he was elected captain of his company.  The approximate site is marked in Schmoldt Park.  After his military service, he traveled to Beardstown to pick up supplies for his store.

     The “Almanac Trial” courthouse, built by Beard in 1844, served Cass County nearly 30 years before nearby Virginia became the county seat. The original brick building still stands on the town square. The first floor houses city offices — you must go upstairs to see the courtroom where Lincoln defended 24-year-old William (“Duff”) Armstrong from a murder charge. This is said to be the only courtroom still in use where Lincoln once practiced law. The trial resulted from a nighttime brawl, and the resourceful Lincoln produced an 1857 almanac (the year the incident occurred) to argue that the state’s witness could not have seen Armstrong kill the victim. There was no moonlight at the time and he was a long distance from Armstrong, so theoretically he could not see that far in the dark. Lincoln also produced a witness who helped acquit Armstrong.

     On the wall there is a copy of a Lincoln ambrotype taken on May 7, 1858, the day he won the case. After the acquittal, 22-year-old Abraham Byers stopped him in the street and asked him to pose in his studio. Lincoln protested that his rumpled white linen suit was not fit for a portrait, but the younger Abraham prevailed.  On August 12, 1858, a few months after the trial, Lincoln appeared in Beardstown to speak as the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. He spoke on a platform in the city park, a site marked by a plaque across from the courthouse. His opponent, Stephen Douglas, spoke the next day, and later that month they officially began their famous series of debates.

     As one approaches the intersection of routes 67 and 100 southeast of the Illinois River, there is a sign which proclaims Beardstown as the home of Lincoln’s famous “Almanac Trial.” The site may be found by taking route 67 to Sixth Street, which is the last street before the bridge, to State Street, turning left, and proceeding to Third Street.

The Allandale (or Albert Cunningham) House, Virginia, IL

     The “Allandale House Historic Site,” also known as the Cunningham House on the Andrew Cunningham Farm, is located off IL St. Hwy. 125, just outside of Virginia, IL.

     According to an article in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (Vol. 28, No. 2, Jul., 1935) entitled “An Old Adobe House” ( ), “Three miles northeast of Virginia, Illinois, at the edge of Sugar Grove, there stands a beautiful and spacious home built of adobe.  So far as is known this house–“Allandale,” home of the Cunningham family for several generations–is the only adobe house in Illinois; nor is it probable that there is anywhere in the central states another house constructed of this material so commonly used in Mexico and the dry southwest.  In 1834, Andrew Cunningham, a young Scotchman, left his native land to try his fortunes in America….”

     According to , Andrew Cunningham was born near Edinborough, Scotland, December 17, 1806. His parents were James and Marion (Wright) Cunningham, natives of Scotland, where they lived and died. His father was a baker and miller by occupation and owned and operated a flouring mill in the village of Bonnington, a suburb of Edinborough.   Andrew was educated in his own country, where he learned the baker trade, and sailed for America March 14, 1834. He was married in Canada, in 1836, to Ellen Allen, who was also born in Scotland, in 1812. In 1835 he came to Cass County, IL, to look up a location and in the beginning of 1837 settled on his present farm at a place on Job’s Creek called Sugar Grove where he built a small house and established a tannery.   The tannery was soon a thriving project, and as Cunningham’s fortunes rose, it was then he decided to erect a more substantial house.

     According to Old Illinois Houses by John Drury reprinted by The University of Chicago Press , Chicago and London, 1977 (*.html ), the Andrew Cunningham House was built in 1852. Said to have been still in a fairly good state of preservation after almost a century of existence, this two‑story house is one of the most unusual dwellings in the state due to its adobe construction. In the years following, it attracted widespread attention because of the unusual building material.  When he died in 1895 Andrew Cunningham left his heirs the diary of his trip the Illinois in 1835, his library, household articles, art objects, and one other reminder of him, a circular plot of ground in front of the adobe house which he ordered should never be touched as it contained original prairie grass, the six- to eight-foot high grass which covered the great, wide prairies of Illinois before the coming of the white man.

      According to Wikipedia, the Andrew Cunningham Farm is located near the Cass County, Illinois, city of Virginia. The Cunningham Farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, one of only two such sites in Cass County. The farm is about two and a half miles east of Virginia. It has been listed on the Register since May 12, 1975.  I do not know if the house is open for public tours, and I really could not find too much online about its present status or condition, but there is a sign on IL Hwy. 125 saying, “Historic Site: Allandale House,” so someone is trying to call attention to it.

Clayville Historic Site, Pleasant Plains, IL

     I didn’t get a chance to post anything yesterday, so we’ll start today instead.

     The “Historic Clayville Stagecoach Stop,” also known as the Clayville Historic Site, is located on IL St. Hwy. 125, just outside of Pleasant Plains, IL.

     The Broadwell Tavern at Claysville, IL, just outside of Pleasant Plains, was built in 1834 by John Broadwell, whose family came to Illinois in the 1820’s from New Jersey.   During the mid-19th century, the tavern and inn was a frequent stop for travelers on the bustling stagecoach route from Beardstown to Springfield.  The two-story structure Broadwell built closely resembled a country inn in England, where his ancestors had come from; downstairs was a kitchen, a commons area, and a bar, with rooms upstairs for travelers to rest. Through the 1860s, the tavern thrived on a steady influx of cattle drivers, merchants, and stagecoach passengers, but as railroads rerouted traffic away from the stagecoach road, business went into an inevitable decline.

     In 1961 Springfield physician Emmet Pearson bought the site and built other period buildings around the old tavern to form a sort of pseudo-frontier village.   In 1973 Pearson gave the property to what was then Sangamon State University, which turned it into the Clayville Rural Life Center and Museum, a rural history center run by SSU.   The University discontinued operating the site in 1992 due to the cost of operating;  it was leased  to a private party and later sold.  With raccoons as its only occupants of, thick vines of ivy covering almost an entire side of the structure, and surrounded by empty liquor bottles and large downed tree branches, the condition of the tavern deteriorated to the point that the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois named the oldest brick building in Sangamon County one of the state’s 10 most endangered historic places for 2007.  LPCI president David Bahlman said “the former tavern is an extraordinarily important structure.  The building marks a turning point in the state’s early architecture, when rugged pioneer dwellings began evolving into more comfortable and sophistcated residences.”

     In May, 2009, volunteers, led by Jim Verkuilen, formed the Pleasant Plains Historical Society. Soon after they began raising funds to acquire and restore the Clayville Historic Site. In June of 2009 a purchase agreement was reached and on July 11, 2009, work at the site began.  Over 50 volunteers came and by lunch time, for the first time in over 10 years, the Broadwell Tavern was visible from the road. Over the next several weeks over a thousand scrub trees and shrubs were cleared away. Dumpster loads of trash were picked up and hauled away. Buildings were secured and new electric panels replaced old unsafe panels.  The site now hosts a Halloween haunted house, “ A Clayville Christmas” celebration, the Annual Clayville Cruise-in car show, a fall festival, and other special events.

     The Clayville Historic Site is now owned, maintained, and operated by  The Pleasant Plains Historical Society, P.O. Box 125, Pleasant Plains, IL 62677; .  The website ( ) implies that there is still a lot of work to be done, but when I passed it the other day it looked in fine shape, at least outside.  I do not know whether it is generally open to the public for tours or not, but it looks like a fascinating place with a lot of wonderful history.

historic sites in Illinois

     This past week, while driving from Salem, IL, where we live, to pick up our older son in Macomb, IL, where he was visiting some friends, I passed three locations, all just northwest of Springfield, which had some things which I thought would be interesting to see, since we enjoy visiting historic sites, especially those smaller ones that are somewhat out of the way.  I didn’t have time to stop and investigate them, but I did some searching on the Internet to find more information about them.

     The first is the “Historic Clayville Stagecoach Stop,” also known as the Clayville Historic Site, on IL St. Hwy. 125, just outside of Pleasant Plains, IL.

     The second is the “Allandale House Historic Site,” also known as the Cunningham House on the Andrew Cunningham Farm, off IL St. Hwy. 125, just outside of Virginia, IL.

     The third is the “Lincoln Almanac Courtroom” in the city of Beardstown, IL, where IL St. Hwy. 125 runs into U. S. Hwy. 67.

     I’ll start telling you more about them beginning tomorrow.

Derry Church School, Hershey, PA

Derry Church School Hershey Pennsylvania

     The Derry Church School, Hershey, PA. 

     The Township of Derry in Pennsylvania was incorporated August 1, 1729, when Lancaster County divided the territory for tax purposes. Derry became a part of Dauphin County when it was established in 1785.  Public education began in Derry Township with the Pennsylvania Free School Act of 1834. The Township’s first school was the Derry Church One-room School, built in 1844 and located on Mansion Road. Over the next few decades, twelve more one-room schools were constructed in the Township.  Born in Derry Township, Milton S. Hershey (1857-1945) attended this one-room schoolhouse during the winter of 1863-1864.  This was the first of seven schools he attended before apprenticing to a Lancaster, PA. candy maker at age 14.   Hershey was originally named Derry Church, Pennsylvania. It was renamed Hershey in 1906 after the growing popularity of Hershey’s Chocolate.   Prior to its 1961 restoration by Milton Hershey School students, the schoolhouse served as the Hershey Country Club caddy house.