Quincy Museum keeps Illinois' history alive

Quincy Museum keeps Illinois' history alive

The Quincy Museum has opened its doors for the summer tourist season.

The building at 16th and Maine holds some of Illinois most valuable treasures, but the journey to its current location is quite a story.

Over the years, this museum has moved to more than a few different locations.

"The Museum was founded in about 1965 by Dr. James Reed, who was kind of an amateur archaeologist," Barbara Wilkinson-Fletcher said. "He dug - with permission of the Park District - one of the mounds down in Indian Park and discovered it was full of fascinating burials and artifacts." But some Native Americans became outraged that the museum was located on their ancestor's burial ground.

Wilkinson-Fletcher is the Executive Director of the Quincy Museum.

"Part of it was that Native Americans were becoming more active in protesting the fact that their burials, the burials of their ancestors, were being used and displayed to a lot of strange people," Wilkinson-Fletcher said.

So the museum found a new home.

"They offered the museum a building there on Quinsippi Island and so from about 1970 to 1979, the Quincy Indian Museum was located on Quinsippi island," Wilkinson- Fletcher said.

Finally, in the mid-1980s, the Museum found its current home.

"About 1980, the museum board made the decision to try to find a place here in town and fortunately, the Newcomb-Stillwell Mansion, where we are today, happened to be available," Wilkinson- Fletcher said.

Now, this 22,000 square foot building holds some of Illinois oldest pieces of history. Some of the items date back centuries.

"Everything from archeology to Victorian history, to local history," Wilkinson- Fletcher said.

"I find most fascinating is probably, just the variety of things that we have here to offer," Wilkinson- Fletcher said.

And many visitors stop in to ask questions about Quincy's Native American history.

"A lot of people want to know what the Native Americans wore in this area, because they see the pictures, most of them out west," Quincy Museum Assistant Jannel VonderHaar said.

Wilkinson-Fletcher said one item on the museum's second floor remains a complete mystery. It's called the Ellington Stone.

"It's a slab of limestone and it has the date of 1671 carved into it," Wilkinson-Fletcher said. "The mystery is, who left the Ellington Stone, and it's actually a mystery."

Wilkinson-Fletcher said it's one of the only items inside the museum that has no known origin.

"1671 is before Marquette and Joliet are known to have been in this area, and so the big mystery is who left it here,"Wilkinson- Fletcher said.

Wilkinson-Fletcher has worked in the museum for more than 10 years, but she still learns something new every day about Illinois history.

"Even if you think you know everything, you really don't," Wilkinson-Fletcher said.

The Quincy Museum will begin its monthly classes in June, known as Elizabeth Newcomb-Stillwell's Classes for Young Ladies.

Each class will serve to teach young ladies some history about a historic Native American girl.

Have you been to the museum? Tell us about your experience below in the comments section.