Take the time to travel beautiful Pike County and you will find lovely cities, villages and unincorporated areas full of warm friendly people. Sizes of these communities, listed below, range from the largest, our county seat Pittsfield, with a population of 4,211 (2000 census) to the smallest, the Village of Time with a population of 36. Wherever you travel within the county (see the map to get your bearings!) you'll find smiles come easy, the countryside is inviting, and there is a quality of life you won't find anywhere else.
Pike County has much to offer to families and businesses that are thinking about relocating in the area. This web site provides a wide variety of information from annual events to economic development information. We invite you to tour our communities, including Pittsfield, our county seat.
Atlas, the oldest town in the county, was the county seat from 1824-1833. The county's oldest inhabitable brick building, erected in 1823, has been remodeled and is now a private home. This building has been an inn, stage coach stop and tavern. Atlas was home to Brigham Young for a period of seven weeks.
The town of Barry is situated in northwest Pike County along Interstate Route 72. Route 106 also runs through Barry with Kinderhook to the west and Pittsfield to the east. Barry is a progressive community that prides itself on being “business friendly”. The development of the Barry Business Park has spurred economic growth both inside and outside of the business park. Due to an 1894 fire necessitating rebuilding, Barry's business district is a turn-of-the-century architectural delight. Look for some interesting antique and craft shops in town. Barry has a both a brochure listing all of its businesses (available here), and a website focused on shopping in Barry. You can find the website at www.shopbarryil.com
In addition, Barry has three parks and a public golf course, various festivals and events, and a variety of activities for residents and visitors. Each year Barry celebrates the local apple industry with a three day Apple Festival in the fall. PASA Park offers sports shooting matches, firearms training and education courses and other special hunter-related activities.
The Barry Museum was established in 1984, starting with a core collection of local memorabilia of Norton Walther. Many items have also been donated by others. The museum is housed on the second floor of the local library building. It is open year round by appoint ment. For the genealogist who is searching Pike County roots, the library has basic materials to help get the search started. Information from the local paper, Barry Adage, is available covering the years 1871-1971.
Have you ever seen an old linotype machine in operation? If you are lucky, you might catch Omer Bridgman at the Guide Printery doing some work. He took over production of the local paper in 1931 and continued printing it until the late 1970's. He still does printing jobs.
Stop at the county's largest non-incorporated village for a drink of cool spring water. They still have a usable town spring.
At Detroit you can see the remains of a small two story brick school. The 1880 History of Pike County says "the citizens have created a fine two-story brick school house and employ two teachers". Another brick building remains that was a general store.
A local prominent citizen journeyed to Mexico around 1847. On his return he spoke of the Mexican town Eldora. The settlers took a fancy to the name and used the name for their town. They misspelled it, however, and the town became El Dara.
There are two original church buildings in town. One was built in 1854 and the other in 1876. An old general store that used to house a bank and a post office is now a community center.
The non-incorporated town of Fish Hook has a convenience store and two old church buildings. An old one room schoolhouse still stands. The convenience store is in a building erected in 1916. Stop and look at the old tin ceiling.
Fish Hook was considered the hometown of the very congenial man Robert Earl Hughes. He was considered the biggest man in the world.
This little Illinois River town is near one of the few lift span bridges in operation in Illinois.
The 1850's Finley Hotel, once visited by Abraham Lincoln, is still standing. The current owners are trying to register the building as an historical site. There is another residential building in town where Lincoln was rumored to have stayed.
Civil War Marker
The first Illinois regiment to participate in the Civil War was the 99th. The group of men gathered at Florence to leave for the war. There is a marker commemorating the event.
Florence is known for its Cargill facility.
Thanks to local entrepreneur and nature enthusiast, J.L. Wade, Griggsville has the distinction of being the Purple Martin Capital of the nation. Purple Martin bird houses, produced locally until just a few years ago, line Quincy Street and stand in many residents yards waiting for the mosquito eating song birds to return from Brazil each spring. Be sure and see the forty foot tower consisting of forty three individual bird houses for the martins who prefer high rise apartments. Drive through the Historic District and enjoy a look at lovely old homes. Griggsville, another former Pike County apple producer, pays homage to the apple each fall with an Apple Festival.
Skinner House Visitors Center & Museum
This 1858 house was renovated by local citizens and is used as a community center as well as housing personal effects of Nellie Grant Sartoris Jones. Nellie was the only daughter of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. Also on display is a collection of duck decoys and bird carvings by the late, local artisan Page Hatch. A small genealogy library is available. After touring the house, take a walk through the lovely flower gardens. The Skinner House is open year round on a limited basis.
The community of Hull sits in the middle of the Mississippi flood plain and was under water during the Great Flood of '93. The friendly folks here are rebuilding and trying to get back to normal. Stop by the local cafe and have a cup of coffee and offer them some encouragement
The Hull Museum is operated by "Hull History Lives, Inc.". Located in an old bank building, the museum features local memorabilia as well as a library section with genealogical records, old clippings and other means of tracing family history. The Hull Livery Stable also belongs to the museum. Both buildings were filled with water during the Great Flood of '93. Artifacts were removed before the flood and will be returned when the buildings are repaired. Visitation will be by appointment.
Kinderhook is located along the Great River Road. Stop and look at their post office building. In 1993 it was chosen as one of the twelve most unique post offices in the United States. Local physician, Dr. P.H. Dechow, incorporated some of his rock collection in the exterior walls. You will be able to identify other objects such as Indian artifacts, antiques jugs, Model T caps, old playing marbles and rattlesnake rattles.
In Milton you will see an old bandstand in the middle of the town square. Bandstands were in most Pike County towns years ago. Milton's survived. In the fall Milton celebrates their agricultural heritage with the Milton Corn Carnival held the fourth weekend in September, with lots of activity around the bandstand. You won't find a better roast pork sandwich than the ones they serve from roasted whole hogs.
Nebo sits in one of Pike's most scenic settings, in the heart of the lower Bay Creek valley, almost surrounded by rugged hills.
Vin Fiz Highway & Marker
The first airplane to be flown coast to coast was the Vin Fiz in 1911. A soft drink company sponsored the flight, naming the aircraft after one of their products. Nebo was a stopping point along the route. You may have read about the route being retraced in 1986. The highway through town has been renamed Vin Fiz Highway and there is a marker commemorating the event. The village celebrates the 1911 landing of the Vin Fiz with a festival each year.
The town of New Canton sits at the base of the Mississippi River bluffs. The Great River Road passes directly through town.
Historically Pike Countians have been self-sufficient in growing their own food and feed for livestock. New Canton celebrates the harvest with a festival in the fall. Usually there is cider and apple butter being made in the park the weekend of Fall Color Drive and Open House.
New Hartford is another Pike County apple town. This neat, attractive little non-incorporated village has a farm market, Ackles, which is open all year. Bring the kids to find their way through the straw maze during the Fall Color Drive and Open House
New Philadelphia, located in central Hadley Township, was the first ever town in America started by an African-American. "Free Frank" McWorter was a slave in Virginia who made saltpeter. He saved $800 and paid for his own freedom. He also paid for the freedom of his wife and four of his thirteen children. "Free Frank" came to Pike County and laid out New Philadelphia in 1836. He sold 144 lots to raise money to buy the freedom of the rest of his family. Thirty-three people lived in New Philadelphia, and the town lasted until 1885, when the railroad passed by further south of the town. See the section regarding New Philadelphia in the "visit" section.
Pike's little village of New Salem is not to be confused with Lincoln's New Salem State Park. New Salem is another of our sleepy little villages. This neat, pretty little spot has an old bandstand in the park. North of the park old millstones can be seen.
The sleepy Illinois River town of Pearl sits in a very scenic area of the county. It wasn't always a sleepy town. The railroad and the river kept it booming earlier in the 20th century. Prior to days of plastic, there were five Pearl button factories. A flash flood in 1946 took it's toll on Pearl. The unusual sandy soil of the nearby hills washed into town.
Just west of town is a pretty setting called Twin Culverts. These limestone culverts are railroad culverts. After the first one was built, the railroad company realized it needed a better alignment for trains to get up the hill and built a second culvert.
Perry is another Pike County town that still has its bandstand. It was built in 1921. Look for some local crafts here. In August Perry celebrates Pioneer Days. The town was platted and registered by Daniel Boone's great nephew, Edward Boone Scholl, and was originally called Boonesville.
Visit this one room school house which was built in 1893. The school was active and well attended until 1948. It is located two miles west of Perry. Dexter School originated about 1845 at a location one-half mile northwest of the present location. The name Dexter came from early settler Darius Dexter who donated the land for the school. Mr. Dexter's granddaughter, Mayme Baird married Wm. Jennings Bryan, who was Secretary of State under President Wilson. The building is furnished with old-time desks and fixtures and there are items such as old books and wall maps. It is open during Fall Color Drive each year or anytime by appointment.
William Jennings Bryan Speech Site
Perry girl, Mamie Baird, was the wife of William Jennings Bryan. Mr. Bryan rehearsed his famous "Cross of Gold" speech in the local Presbyterian Church yard. There is a marker commemorating the event
Pittsfield has been Pike's county seat since 1833. It is the county's biggest little city with a population of around 4200. You would be hard put to find a prettier, neater town in the whole state of Illinois.
The area around the courthouse is basically intact with the two-story business buildings standing handsomely, dating back to the late 1890's. Most of the elegant, older houses in town have survived beautifully and stand along wonderful tree lined streets.
Not everything is old. There are newer homes, nice parks and shopping plazas on the edge of town too. There are some craft stores around town. If you want fast food restaurants, Pittsfield's got 'em.
As do many other towns in Pike County, Pittsfield has its own Fall Festival. If you are digging your Pike County roots, the local library has a genealogy section for you.
Pike County Visitors Center at 224 W. Washington in Pittsfield, IL 62363
A 24-hour foyer is available with information regarding Griggsville, Barry, Pleasant Hill, and Pittsfield, as well as State of Illinois maps, telephone books, and Pike County Visitors Guides. There is a large Illinois map and Pike County Plat Map framed and hung for visitors to utilize. The Pike County Chamber provides information for all of Pike County regarding events, businesses, activities, attractions, etc. You can find this information by clicking on the "visit" tab on our home page and scrolling through the menu bar on the left.
Historic East School
The Historic East School was designed by architect John Mills Van Osdell and was built during 1861-1866. It was the first Pittsfield public school to serve grades 1 through 12. It is now 51st on the National Register of Historic Places. Currently the Pike County Historical Society is in charge of the East School. They have made it a museum with Pike County memorabilia such as a dray wagon, printing press, wedding dresses, furniture and dishes. There are some local histories, photographs and documents for the genealogy buff. The museum has limited hours May through October.
Pike County Courthouse
Pike's courthouse in Pittsfield is considered one of the ten most beautiful courthouses in Illinois. The corner stone for the octagonal shaped building was laid July 12, 1894. Architect Henry Elliott designed the building. Robert Franklin, a stone mason from Nebo, cut the stone with the help of some of his family. Transoms above the windows feature stained glass panels. Inside you will find graceful twin curved stairways that form a balcony on the second floor. In the courthouse rotunda is a photograph of Abraham Lincoln that was taken in Pittsfield on October 1, 1858 by Calvin Jackson. There is norecord of Lincoln serving in this courthouse. Nearly 550 documents of cases associated with Lincoln were found in courthouse records. Visitors may tour the courthouse at their leisure.
Pittsfield Post Office
Pittsfield's post office dates back to the late 30's and is quite elegant, inside and out. The interior features a 1938 painting of the railroad bridge over the Illinois River. Stop in for a nostalgic look and say hello to the friendly staff.
The pleasant little town of Pleasant Hill is located on the Great River Road. Be sure and drive to the top of the hill on the east side of town and see the beautiful view towards the Mississippi River.
The Fourth of July Celebration held here is a patriotic, family-fun event concluded with a tremendous display of fireworks. Since 1992 the Gateway Western Santa Caboose stops in Pleasant Hill with treats for the children. They can even tour the caboose. Pleasant Hill is home to the Pike-Calhoun Genealogical Society.
Rockport, located on the Great River Road, has had four grist mills on the same site. The original mill was built in 1830 and burned in 1846. Two more times mills were built and lost to fires. The last was built in 1867-68. Foundations remain where barges used to tie up before the Mississippi River was contained by levees to provide fertile bottom land.
Summer Hill brings back memories of earlier times with a working drive-in movie theater, the Clark 54 Drive Inn, situated on the edge of town
An old two-story frame building still stands that housed a general store on the ground floor for many, many years. The second story was used by the local Masonic Lodge. The building is currently the Summer Hill Antique Mall, with dozens of antique and collectible vendors.
Civil War Statue/Monument
In 1917 the people of Summer Hill erected a statue in the park in honor of the men of the area who served in the Civil War. The statue was refurbished and rededicated in 1992.
Pike County has the distinction of having the two smallest incorporated towns in Illinois. Time comes in second with a population of 36. The residents of Time take pride in their old two story bandstand in the park. The park really comes alive on Fall Color Drive weekend.
With a population of 23, Valley City is the smallest incorporated town in Illinois. Just south of town is scenic Napolean Hollow which is part of the 800 acre Ray Norbut Wildlife and Conservation area.