Jonesboro making plans for bicentennial celebration in fall

Most Illinois citizens know that their state is going to be 200 years old in December 2018, but not as many may know that Union County and the county seat of Jonesboro were founded on Jan. 2, 1818, when Illinois was still a territory. 

The City of Jonesboro has chosen to celebrate its birthday during the weekend of Oct. 12-14, when the annual county-wide ColorFest celebration is scheduled.

The Jonesboro Bicentennial Committee has contracted with George Buss, a well-known Abraham Lincoln impersonator, to “revisit” the tiny town in Southernmost Illinois where he met with Sen. Stephen A. Douglas for their historic third debate in 1858.  

Abe is scheduled to speak at a dinner in Anna on Friday evening, Oct. 13, after spending the day with students at the Jonesboro Elementary School.  

Back Porch Company will provide musical entertainment at the dinner, which will be catered by Jamie Starratt.  

Reservations are $25 each and can be made by email to before Oct. 5.  

Saturday, Oct. 13, a full day of special activities are planned to celebrate the city’s 200th birthday.

At 10 a.m., the Jonesboro Cemetery will be the setting for the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution to dedicate three new markers for Revolutionary War soldiers buried in the cemetery. 

 “Abraham Lincoln” will be present to talk about some of his friends and acquaintances who are buried in the ancient grounds.  

Costumed interpreters will be stationed at some of the graves to tell the stories of the pioneers and their families.  

Over 100 American flags, furnished by the American Legion, will be placed at the graves of soldiers from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Blackhawk War  and the Civil War. 

A self-guided driving tour of sites important in the history of Jonesboro will be available by collecting a free tour pamphlet from the Bicentennial Table at the ColorFest event a block west of the Jonesboro Square.  

Also available will be a guide to country churches, including St. John’s Lutheran, the oldest continual Lutheran church in Illinois, which was founded in 1816, and the St. Paulus Lutheran (Kornthal) Church founded in 1853 by Austrian immigrants, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Jonesboro City Library, the former Mobile & Ohio Railroad Depot, will be open with an exhibit of artifacts from the old station from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The PAST Heritage House Museum will be open for free touring from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

The usual ColorFest vendors and entertainment will be located just west of the square and will include bicentennial souvenirs and merchandise.  

A pictorial history has been printed and will be sold at the stand and at the PAST Heritage House at 102 S. Main St.  


The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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