The oldest house in the state of Illinois.
I know that many of you live in towns that can trace the history back thousands of years, but for those of us who live in the US, our history only goes back a few generations to when our ancestors arrived here and began building homes and towns in the wilderness.
Irish immigrants, John Dowling and his son Nicholas arrived in Galena in 1826. Their intention was to build a wooden structure, but all the area trees were being cut to fire the smelters at the lead mines. Area limestone was an obvious building material, and their limestone house was built in 1826–27 and still remains in use 197 years later as a public museum. It is the oldest home in the state of Illinois
The first floor was used as a trading post and the Dowlings lived upstairs.
"Galena” is Latin for lead sulfide. In 1845, this area produced almost 85% of the nation's lead. The Vinegar Hill mine in Galena was shut down and abandoned after two disastrous fires in 1865 and 1867,
Lead is still used in batteries, and as semi-conductors for radios and other electronic equipment. Lead vests are used as a protection from x-ray equipment, but is no longer used in plumbing and paint.
Before indoor plumbing, dry sinks like this one were used to hold a pitcher and basin of water for wasihng up.
You can see how thick the walls of the house are by looking at the window sills.
Galena Daily Gazette
2 April 1860
Funeral of Mr. Dowling
The funeral of Nicholas Dowling Saturday was more numerously attended than that of any person heretofore. The places of business were generally closed, the bells were tolled and there were none who did not wish to show respect to the memory of the deceased. The procession formed at the late dwelling of the deceased and proceeded to the Catholic Church on Bench street, and thence to the cemetery. The services at the church were conducted by Father Mazzuchelli, of Benton.
The tombstone for Nicholas Dowling is the tallest in the cemetery because his wife wanted to be able to see it from her home when she looked off across the valley.
There is so much fascinating history in this little town!