Try 1 month for 99¢

CARTERVILLE — Harrison Bruce Historical Village on the campus of John A. Logan College is ready for Christmas and its second annual Harrison Bruce Historical Village Stroll. The stroll will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the village.

Stroll chairperson Carla Coppi said visitors will see some changes this year. Visitors will receive seeds saved from the village gardens, St. Nicholas will greet guests and silent auction items and a new coloring book will be available.

In 2017, master gardeners and master naturalists, along with other volunteers, planted and maintained 10 heritage gardens on the village grounds.

Rick Whitecotton and Terry Foster prepared seeds from those gardens for visitors to take home to plant in the spring, including swamp milkweed, cleome and woody annual cotton. Those plants would have been found growing in Southern Illinois.

“Swamp milkweed is a plant pollinators really like,” Whitecotton said.

“Monarchs pollinate and lay eggs on it,” Foster added, calling it a host plant.

The gardeners mimicked the plants that would have been found in the area in the time frame of the building, including those brought to new homes by settlers, those that worked well for their neighbors and native plants that were pretty or useful.

They planted cotton and tobacco at the Hunter Cabin. Heirloom tomatoes were planted in a produce garden. Cleome or spider flower would have been brought across the prairie with settlers.

“It’s been intensely interesting to put ourselves in the mindset of settlers and how they grew,” Foster said.

Christmas Stroll

Docent Rebecca Bostian of Herrin puts up a Christmas calendar in the Purdy School at the Harrison Bruce Historical Village in Carterville Wednesday.

One new visitor to the village will be St. Nicholas, who will be in period dress. Cheryl Trench, lead docent for the village, said this is not Santa in his current red and white coat and pants. 

Carl Cottingham will portray St. Nicholas, wearing a traditional long red coat with fur trim and tweed knickers and vest underneath. His costume was sewn by Jo Ann Ridenour. Coppi said the outfit is wonderful, down to the buttons on the vest, which are tiny clocks.

St. Nicholas will welcome visitors and hand out maps of the village.

A coloring page for children, and refreshments, along with seeds, will be available in the Robert L. Mees Village Center. Visitors also can bid on silent auction items in the center.

“The silent auction is of items related to the village, such as wreaths of cotton and hydrangea we grew,” Coppi said.

Perhaps the most exciting change is in the weather forecast. During the inaugural stroll in 2016, the weather was rainy and cold. This year, the prediction is sunshine and temperatures in the low 60s.

“This year we are going to be blessed with glorious weather,” Coppi said.

Christmas Stroll

Paper snowflakes decorate a window of the Purdy School at the Harrison Bruce Historical Village in Carterville. Volunteers put up period decorations Wednesday in preparation for the annual Christmas Stroll Sunday.

A new fundraiser is underway, too. A coloring book will be available for $5 with all proceeds going to the village. The book features pictures of the Harrison Bruce Historical Village drawn by JALC student Nathaniel Darling.

Coppi said the decorations have been enhanced this year.

“I thought it worked for the festivities last year, but this year it’s going to be remarkable,” Coppi said.

Musicians and singers will provide entertainment, including Our Lady of Mount Carmel Children’s Ensemble led by Christy Allen, pianists Henry Nicolaides and Tom Novara, harpist Joyce Hesketh and guitarist Tom Schaubert.

The Harrison Bruce Historical Village includes the Hunter Cabin, built in 1818 in rural Williamson County and reconstructed at the village with 80 percent of the original logs; Purdy School, which served as a one-room schoolhouse in Perry County from 1860 to 1951; Harrison Storefront, a replica of a double dog-trot-style cabin built by the David Ruffin Harrison family in 1858; Harrison House, a replica of the home built by D.R. Harrison in 1868 in northwest Herrin, then known as Herrin Prairie; and Robert L. Mees Village Center.

The stroll will take place rain or shine.

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.


Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

Load comments