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The Historic Village of Maeystown, Illinois

The entire village of Maeystown was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Since that time the small community of approximately 150 residents has become a popular site for visitors to the area. Its historic distinction, as well as a progressive organization called the Maeystown Preservation Society, has brought new life to the once-dying community. The village has a periodic newspaper called the Maeystown Volksblatt. Maeystown has its own water system and is governed by a village board and mayor.

Maeystown has a growing business community, including The Corner George Bed and Breakfast, Corner George Inn Sweet Shoppe, Eschy's Village Inn, Maeystown General Store, Raccoon Hollow Handcrafts, KW Outdoor Wear, T. Walster of Maeystown (custom doors and windows). The Maeystown Nature Walk is operated year round for donations.

Although its population continues to be small, people from throughout the area support Maeystown's many activities. These events include: Fastnacht, German pancake and sausage dinner Tuesday before Ash Wednesday; Fruhlingfest, spring antique and garden show, first Sunday in May; Oktoberfest, art and crafts fair, second Sunday in October; German Christmas, first Sunday in December.

(The following is taken from "The Significance of the Village of Maeystown, Illinois" by Gloria Bundy.) Copies of this booklet are available for $3.00, plus $1.00 shipping and handling from: Mark Bundy, P.O. Box 35, Maeystown, IL 62256.

The picturesque village of Maeystown, nestled in the hills and among the spring-fed streams in one small spot of Southern Illinois was founded in 1852 by Jacob Maeys, who was born in Oggersheim, Bavaria, in 1828.

Although the village was founded in 1852 and settled entirely by German immigrants of the Forty-Eighter movement, its historical significance begins in 1782, at the time of the Moore settlement at La Belle Fontaine, at what is now Waterloo, Illinois.

Captain James Moore, a native of Maryland, was a soldier under George Rogers Clark and was with him at Kaskaskia when he captured the Illinois Country for Governor Patrick Henry, making it a county of Virginia. Having seen the advantages of the Illinois Country, he returned with his family and four other pioneers and their families and spent the winter of 1781 in Kaskaskia. In 1782, Moore and his party moved northward on the Kaskaskia Trail and settled at a place the French called La Belle Fontaine because of the beautiful spring there. This was the first permanent American settlement made in the Illinois Territory. Other pioneers subsequently followed, stopping briefly at the Moore settlement until they staked claims for themselves elsewhere.

One such young pioneer was James McRoberts, a Revolutionary War Soldier, who joined the Moore party and then staked a claim of 100 acres (Survey 704; Claim 316), which he received for an improvement right. He left his claim, went to Tennessee, where he married Mary Fletcher-Harris and came back to Monroe County in 1797, receiving another 100 acres, presently owned by Mr. and Mrs. Halbert Mueller (Survey 703; Claim 315), from the government as a militia donation. This claim was about one mile north of the first one. It was on the second claim that he built his dwelling out of cedar logs. Here his ten children were born. Samuel, the eldest, "was the first native-born Illinoisan elevated to the United States Senate."

Following the elder McRobert's death in 1844, his Survey 704; Claim 316, now known as the McRoberts' Meadow, was sold and re-sold in rapid succession. It was a hilly, wooded tract of land, not suitable for cultivation. It contained three streams and a large spring, with limestone deposits protruding out of the hillsides and along the creek banks.

In 1848, Jacob Maeys purchased the Meadow from James O. Hall because of the large spring upon it. Young Maeys intended to use the water power from the spring to run a saw mill. Here he built his log house to which he brought his bride, Barbara Fischer, also a native of Germany.

Purchasing this 100 acres was very timely, as it was just when the Forty-Eighters were coming up the Mississippi River from the port of New Orleans, stopping briefly at St. Louis and then spreading by the thousands into the surrounding areas of Missouri and Illinois.

For more information about Maeystown, contact the Maeystown Preservation Society, C/O Postmaster, Maeystown, IL 62256. Group tours are also offered. For information call 618-458-6660.


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