In 1849, a cholera epidemic struck the Bishop Hill Colony. Some of the Colonists were sent out to various outposts. One such large group went to LaGrange, near the present town of Orion. But they were unable to escape the disease. 70 Colonists died at LaGrange. In 1882, a monument was erected to honor them.
This past Friday, I went out to take a look at the monument for myself. It is located just a half mile off the Osco/Orion road, on a gravel road next to a cornfield. This sight struck a chord with me. As I was standing in front of the monument, I could see the village of Andover and the wind turbines of the Bishop Hill Wind Farm. To my left, vehicles whiz by on the Osco/Orion road. Behind me, I could hear the traffic on I-74. Among all these fast paced modern items, sits this mostly forgotten monument to pioneers who made our current life possible. For me it serves as a reminder on how important museums and non-profit organizations, like the BHHA, are. It is because of these organizations that people today are reminded about how the past influenced the present and will shape the future.
At the same time, this monument also gives me hope for the future when it comes to preserving our past. Someone has taken the time to mow around it and to place plastic flowers next to it. These actions show that there are still people today, like BHHA members, who care about protecting our history.
If you like to see the photos of this monument, check out our photo gallery or click on this link: http://bishophillheritage.org/orion-monument-for-1849-cholera-victims/ .
Todd DeDecker, BHHA Administrator