Pecatonica’s Civil War legacy on display

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PECATONICA (WREX) — Pecatonica may be a small village, but it has a big legacy when it comes to the Civil War.

“About a year ago, we located the Civil War muster out of Company B of the Illinois 74th, which was raised in Pecatonica,” Michael Eaton, the President of the Pecatonica Historical Society, said.

The muster, which is a large regiment record of all those who fought during the war from a specific company, is one of three that were made.

“One copy went to the War Department, another copy from the state that the company was from and the third copy was for the company to bring home.

This muster was found among the personal affects of Sergeant James P. Barker, a Canadian immigrant who became an American citizen after the war.

Company B was made up of 94 men from Pecatonica, and some of their lineage is carried on today.

“We thought we’d come up here and take a look to see if there was any of my relatives up there, and I found a Shaw in there and I have an Uncle Martin,” Barbara Faith, a visitor to the exhibit, said.

Violet Johns, who is a member of the Pecatonica Historical Society, had almost an entire display case dedicated to her ancestor.

“He was Thomas Lawler and he was in the Civil War when he was 17 years-old, Johns explained.

Interestingly enough, Lawler was also instrumental in the building of Rockford’s Memorial Hall. Lawler was one of the lucky returners, because though 94 men left Pecatonica, only 33 returned.

“Most of them died in battle, but some died by accident or got sick and died,” Eaton said. “A lot of sickness then too.”

And as visitors perused the room, many of them said they were struck by the preservation of the pieces in the collection.

“If we don’t, it’s going to be lost and looking at the crowd here today, I can see people are really interested in preserving history,” Johns said.

The Pecatonica Historical Society ensures that Pecatonica’s Civil War legacy is passed on.

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