Legends – Road Trip!

November 15, 2021

The DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association (DAAHA) has created a great self-guided driving tour of DeKalb County which is perfect for a COVID safe outing. Who knew there were so many historical landmarks in the county?

Not only a self –guided driving tour, but you can also go on a virtual tour of the 30 locations on their website www.daaha.org.

What will you see on the tour?

One of the highlights of the historical locations in the north part of the county is the Mayfield Wesleyan Methodist Church, 28405 Church Road, between Sycamore and Kingston. The church was on the Underground Railroad (UGRR.) The Underground Railroad was neither underground nor a railroad. It was a network of secret stops to aide escaping slaves prior to the Civil War. These “stations” hid and aided slaves who were on their journey to Canada or a free state in the United States.

The “Seedling Mile” historical marker is located at the east side of Kishwaukee College.

The congregation at the Mayfield Church was thought to be the strongest anti-slavery group in the township. As “station agents” the residents of Mayfield were breaking the law by assisting the slaves. However, no one in DeKalb County was ever arrested, prosecuted or convicted of aiding and abetting a fugitive slave. This is amazing history for our county.

A little further south is the “Seedling Mile” west of Malta. The Seedling Mile was the Lincoln Highway’s first transcontinental hard surface roadway in the United States. It was a short section of the hard road to show construction techniques providing a strong voice for driving on a hard road versus a dirt road. The Seedling Mile was built in Malta in the fall of 1914.

The Mayfield Wesleyan Methodist Church has many members who had abolitionist philosophies and were involved in the Underground Railroad.

Traveling in the southern part of the county, take a ride down Waterman Road (aka the narrow cement) until you come to the Henry Rose Home. Rose created fencing with wooden boards with metal barbs inserted to discourage animals. Rose’s patented fence was displayed at a DeKalb County fair where Isaac Ellwood, Joseph Glidden and Jacob Haish saw the display. They improved on the design and explored new manufacturing processes.

Henry Rose patented a fence to replace Osage Orange trees to help keep livestock contained and predators out. These are included in the history tour.

The DAAHA driving-tour is downloadable in a PDF format from their website. This is a fantastic labor of love of the history of DeKalb County. You’ll be amazed at what you will learn at the 30 historical locations listed!

Information provided by Sue Breese


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