Pope County Historical Museum
page last update on December 27, 2014

In 1966, several members of the community met in the home of Mrs. Kathryn Hamilton to organize a historical society so that generations to come would know about the struggles and successes of their ancestors.  The founding families of Pope County crossed the country to the new territory from such places as South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Germany, and Great Britain to name a few.

Many came to get away from slavery, many to find a new life, all were courageous, meeting the unknown with enthusiasm and strength.  Golconda, because of its ferry, grew into an important stop to those moving west, many chose to stay in Pope County, cleared the land and made homes for their families.  At the height of river traffic, Golconda became a center of export for these farmers, sending their produce to distant ports.

With the close of the river age, Golconda settled into a quiet river town struggling to survive.  During the depression many farmers were on the verge of losing their land.  The federal government stepped in to help this community by purchasing the land which had been played out from years of farming and developed the Shawnee National Forest.

The Pope County Historical Society opened a museum in 1966 in a historical house across from the beautiful courthouse square to display the lives of those who brought civilization to the Illinois Territory.  From furniture to personal mementos, the museum introduced Pope County to visitors and residents.  Unfortunately, in 1988, all was destroyed by fire.  Immediately the Society purchased another historic home and through the generosity of the community, began to build another tribute to our ancestors.

The Historical Society also owns and has restored a commercial building on Main Street.  Built in 1906 for the Watson Hardware Store, the back of the building has been converted into a meeting room and the main room in front is now the new home of the museum.

The Pope County Historical Society Mission Statement reads:  "In order to maintain a living history of Pope County, Illinois and the people who influenced its development, both in its past and in its current history, the Pope county Historical Society Museum will, through a review process, collect, preserve and display items which directly relate to the development of the county limits.  This includes memorabilia from current activities that are of special meaning to our community."

The Society invites anyone interested in our local history to join us at our monthly meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Meeting Room on Columbus Avenue.  We also invite you to become a member for $5.00 a year.  Each member receives the quarterly newsletter, "The Packet" and news from our Genealogical Committee.

The museum is staffed by volunteers and is open most Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. from April through November and in December for the Christmas In Golconda House Tour.

Please stop by and visit our museum and get to know who we are.  We are located at Main Street and Columbus Avenue.

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