On Saturday, September 6th, 2014, Bishop Hill is hosting the 2nd annual Bishop Hill Chautauqua. The theme this year is “Uniquely American.”  This is a free family oriented event where you will hear re-enactors tell inspiring stories about the historical characters they are portraying.


Meriwether Lewis: The Comic Mis-Adventures of The Corps of Discovery

Imagine an evening at an Inn along the Natchez Trace among friends, where Meriwether Lewis shares the true stories of his glorious moments and gut-busting guffaws in this humorous and informative blend of stories and song, journal excerpts and American Indian folklore. Lewis reveals for the first time many of the scientific discoveries of the Corps of Discovery. Encountering grizzly bears and collecting soil samples, capturing prairie dogs and eating bitter roots, Lewis catalogued 122 new animal species, 178 new plants, and spelled the word mosquito 12 different ways! The expedition was first and foremost a scientific expedition and this program brings the scientific process to life with humor and wit. Performing as Lewis, Brian “Fox” Ellis has participated in more than a dozen of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial events from Fort Massac, Illinois to Fort Clark, North Dakota.

Fanny Crosby: Queen of Gospel Song Writers

Blind since infancy, Fanny Crosby never let it slow her down as she was a major player in much of America’s early history: tracing her roots to the Mayflower and the founders of Harvard, she attended church services with preacher and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher; P.T. Barnum and John Quincy Adams were fans of her poetry; and she was the first woman to address the joint houses of Congress. Crosby wrote more than 8000 hymns under hundreds of pseudonyms, was an advocate for blind education as a ray of hope, and spoke on the original Chautauqua circuit 100 years ago. Bing Crosby is a relative. Virginia Nelson brings Fanny Crosby to life in this musical program.

Harriet Tubman: Moses of Her People

Civil War Spy and Conductor on the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman will take you on an unforgettable journey through the struggles of a former slave who risked her life again and again because freedom meant something to her. Portrayed by Kathryn Harris, the Director of Library Services for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Harriet will be both an old friend and your personal hero before the program is through.

 Woody Guthrie, Dustbowl Troubadour

Woody Guthrie, a true Dustbowl Troubadour, chronicled the stories of America’s struggle through the Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War II through his heart-felt songs. In this original presentation, Barry Cloyd tells Woody’s uniquely American story through the eyes of Gypsy Davey, one of Guthrie’s boxcar riding traveling companions. Cloyd is a consummate folk musician who brings to the stage all of the passion of the man who wrote, “This Land is Your Land” and hundreds of other iconic American folk songs.


11:00 Meriwether Lewis: The Comic Mis-Adventures of The Corps of Discovery 

12:00 Lunch at one of three local restaurants

1:00 Fanny Crosby: Queen of Gospel Song Writers

3:00 Harriet Tubman: Moses of Her People

5:00 Woody Guthrie, Dustbowl Troubadour

All programs will be held at the gazebo in the town square. Please bring a folding chair. In the case of inclement weather, we will move the program indoors. For additional information, call 309 927-3899 or visit www.bishophillheritage.org.

This program is sponsored by the Bishop Hill Heritage Association, with funding also provided by donations from the public, by the Illinois Arts Council, and by the Illinois Humanities Council. Additional assistance was provided by Brian “Fox” Ellis of Fox Tales International.