- Associated Press - Sunday, June 26, 2016

CARTERVILLE, Ill. (AP) - In the mood to take a trip back in time?

The Harrison-Bruce Historical Village at John A. Logan College is open for public tours on July 5 and 19. Tours start promptly at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and will continue into the fall, but those dates have not been set. Public tours are available twice a month from April through November.

The village consists of four historical buildings, dating from 1818 through the late 1800s. The Purdy School and Hunter Log Cabin were moved to the site. The Harrison Storefront and Harrison House are replicas of those original structures.

The final building in the village is the Robert L. Mees Village Centre, which serves as a welcome center and provides for college and community events. The building was designed to also serve as an incident command center for emergencies and can be powered by portable generators to run multiple phone lines and internet connections. The center is available to rent for reunions and private events.

“Dr. Mees was the great historian who wanted to do this,” said Cheryl Ranchino Trench, lead docent for the village.

The village was made possible through a $1.5 million grant from the Harrison-Bruce Foundation.

Trench and Vicki Blair, a volunteer docent, said the village always welcomes new docents or guides. Volunteers go through about three months of training and help experienced docents with tours. They also have to pass background checks.

Trench said they are interested in adding more buildings to the village and would love to have an historic church.

A normal tour begins in the oldest structure in the village, the Hunter Log Cabin.

The oldest building in the village is the Hunter Log Cabin. Emmanuel Hunter built his log cabin in 1818, the year Illinois became a state. It was located northeast of Marion and east of Whiteash.

The one-room cabin was home to Hunter, his wife, Judith Lee Hunter, and their six children. The cabin originally had a loft, where all the children slept, that had an opening near the fireplace. It is decorated with period artifacts, including a four-post bed that is original to the cabin.

The cabin has two doors and porches on the front and back. Trench said the doors originally opened in to protect from Indian attacks, which were common in the early 1800s in Illinois. The doors now open to the outside to meet code for public buildings.

Blair said the deer love to eat whatever is grown near the cabin.

Purdy School was the first historical building relocated to the campus of John A. Logan College. The school was moved to JALC in 1983 through the generosity of the July Harrison Bruce Foundation from its original location in southern Perry County. It was built around 1860 by Edwin Burbank and continued to serve as a one-room school until 1951.

“Prior to the village, this was a working building, thanks to the efforts of Betty Neely of Herrin,” Trench said.

Today, the school allows public school students to experience a turn-of-the-century one-room school. Local retired teachers serve as guides and “teach” students for the day. Students use ink wells and quills, vintage textbooks, slates and chalk, visit the recitation bench and play games from an earlier time.

“This is a real treasure because for many, many years, this is how most Americans learned,” Trench said.

The Harrison Storefront, a 19th Century double dog-trot style cabin, is a replica of the cabin David Ruffin Harrison’s family lived in prior to construction of the brick Harrison home. It is basically two square cabins or pens separated by a breezeway or “dog-trot” and joined by a common roof.

The family lived on the left and Harrison’s business was on the right.

Docent Cheryl Ranchino Trench is surrounded by the many items on display in the Harrison Store Front “double dog trot” style log cabin at The John A. Logan Harrison Bruce Historical Village on Thursday.

The home contains a variety of donated artifacts, including items from the Bruce family, a spinning wheel donated by Sam Stotlar and a trunk from the Tony Gallinas family that traveled from Italy across the ocean to Herrin. A rifle hangs over the fireplace.

“Every cabin had a gun, and this one is a Springfield Rifle,” Trench said.

David Ruffin Harrison built a new brick home for his family in 1868 in northwest Herrin, then known as Herrin’s Prairie. Trench said the home was really a mansion to the family who had lived in the small cabin.

The home was sold in 1899 and went through several owners before Julia Harrison Bruce purchased the house in 1975 and restored it to serve as a museum. By the time JALC officials expressed interest in adding the home to its historical village, advisors of the Fred G. Harrison and Julia Harrison Bruce Foundation collaborated with JALC to preserve the heritage of the home by building a replica. It was completed in 2012.

The home contains some historical artifacts from the original Harrison House and some added by other owners over the years. Stones from the original foundation line the walkway to the home. The upper floor is currently used as storage. The main floor consists of a parlor, music room with a piano, and a dining room with a small kitchen area, and front and back porches.

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Source: The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan, https://bit.ly/1sCUuWL

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, https://www.southernillinoisan.com

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