Peterstown, Illinois

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Peterstown, Illinois is an unincorporated community in LaSalle County, Illinois, United States. The community has a mostly German Catholic background.

Geography[edit]

Located about a mile west of Illinois Route 251, the parish community is located at the junction of E. First Road and N. 39th Road (dubbed, Peterstown Road). It lies within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria. It is home to a Catholic church, a no longer operating Catholic School, a parish hall/ school gymnasium, a rectory, a cemetery, several houses, and a one room, circa 1910 school house.

Demographics[edit]

Because Peterstown has no defined boundaries, the population is estimated by the amount of members of the parish. The Sts. Peter & Paul Church has approximately 80 families as members. This comes to about 130 people in all.

History[edit]

The brick school building located north of the church was constructed in 1914, and had its final graduation class in 1976. The Rectory was constructed in 1918. On the schoolgrounds is a statue of the blessed Mary sheltered by an alcove in a stone wall. This was constructed in the early 1950s. Also, in the 1950s, was the construction of the parish hall. The parish itself needed a meeting space, the school needed a gymnasium, both so that dinners, athletic activities, and other miscellaneous activities could be set there. In honor of its long-serving pastor, Father Paul Hettinger, it is known as the Paul Hettinger Parish Center. A railroad track ran through the village, and a grain mill was constructed along it. The mill and the tracks, however, were torn down in the 1980s. Also in the immediate vicinity of Peterstown are the residences of the Kleins and the Burkes. Behind the Klein residence is an old schoolhouse, which served as a temporary school in the early 1910s until the current school building was constructed. On June 9, 2010, while the schoolhouse was in the process being re-sided, it caught ablaze. The roof and back of the building were completely charred. The historic schoolhouse was razed in autumn of 2010. The Parish itself was founded in 1853. A church was constructed at the sight for the local farmers that lived in the area. This building burned down, as did its predecessor. The citizens of the area needed a non-flammable, non wood solution. The people decided that the new building shall be made of limestone. So, limestone was hauled in from the quarry in nearby Troy Grove, Illinois, approximately 5 miles away. The current church was completed in 1872. The church itself holds weekly services on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings, officiated by either Fr. Fredi Gomez Torres or Fr. Geoff Horton.

Due to its reputation as a haven for German Roman Catholics, many immigrants from Germany actually sought out the small area and its much larger neighbor Mendota as suitable places to live, which led to the long-standing belief that Mendota and Peterstown was a haven for anyone who came from Germany. This led to a massive influx of German immigrants to the northwest corner of LaSalle County, and led to large populations of Germans in Troy Grove, Earlville, Meriden, Triumph, LaSalle-Peru, Harding, and other communities in that part of the county. The immigration draw for this area is about as strong as the draw for Norwegian immigrants to settle the areas of Mission, Northville, Serena, and Miller Townships in LaSalle County, as well as Little Rock and Fox Townships In Kendall County and Sandwich Township in DeKalb County.

Perception[edit]

Though not on many maps of the state, the community means a lot to its occupants. A longtime resident of the rectory, Pastor Paul Hettinger (1913-2003), once stated, "Peterstown: It is not a town, it's a state of mind."

Today[edit]

In modern days, the Peterstown school has been put to use as a TEC Center (Teens Encounter Christ). The rectory is currently being used as excess residency, and is sometimes used as the headquarters of an adult Christian group known as Cursillo. Like Reverend Hettinger said, "Peterstown isn't a town, it's a state of mind." It will most likely remain that way for the small population of dwellers and parishioners for many ages to come.

Sources[edit]

  • Hettinger, Paul. "Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Peterstown: A Continuing History." 1997. Print.
  • The Peterstown History Collection

Coordinates: 41°29′53″N 89°08′48″W / 41.49806°N 89.14667°W / 41.49806; -89.14667