Apple River Fort offers look at death in 1830s, view of meteor shower

Online Staff Report

ELIZABETH, Ill. — Join settlers at the Apple River Fort State Historic Site Saturday, Aug. 10, to learn how death and illness were handled in the 1830s, and then look to the night sky for the spectacle of a meteor shower.

The Apple River Fort was the site of a battle in the Black Hawk War of 1832. The fort lost one man, George Herclerode, during the battle. Another was killed later when a cannon exploded during a celebration of the war’s end.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Aug. 10, the historic site will demonstrate mourning and funeral customs of the era. The news of a death traveled slowly outside of the community, but the settlers did the best they could at the time to honor the departed.

Death was a constant possibility on the frontier, as were its sister specters illness and injury. Fortunately, Dr. Reed is available for consultation on symptoms like fevers, consumption and injuries. The good doctor will explain frontier medicine and provide his patent elixir (unavailable elsewhere!). For complaints of the ladies and young children, Mrs. Reed has years of experience as a “yarb” woman (using medicinal plants) and midwife.

That night, visitors will get expert guidance on scanning the sky for the Perseid meteor shower. Dr. Paul and Diane Sipiera of the Planetary Studies Foundation will host the 8 p.m. event.

Visitors are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs as telescopes will be available for viewing by the public. (A reminder that stargazing events are subject to weather and sky conditions.)

The shower will probably be at its best on the nights of Aug 11-13. Try the nights before and after that, too. Before-dawn viewing is best. From northerly latitudes, you often see 50 or more shooting stars per hour.

The Apple River Fort State Historic Site is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday). Admission is free. The fort is along U.S. Route 20 (about 20 minutes east of Galena, Ill.) at 311 E. Myrtle St., Elizabeth, Ill. For more information, visit The Apple River Fort State Historic Site is administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (

Posted Aug. 7, 2013

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