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Brief History of the Tiskilwa Historical Society

We are a small group with big ideas, and we hope to continue to grow in accomplishments as well as membership.  By preserving the past and honoring the present, we want to contribute to the future of our little village in the valley, Tiskilwa, a gem with many sparkling facets. 


Since January of 2006, we’ve grown from a gathering of eight people sitting around a dining room table to discuss start-up ideas into a thriving organization with more than 250 members.  Only about half of our members live near-by; the rest are long-distance but supportive friends whom we affectionately call “Tiskilwannabes.”


By August 2006, we already owned our museum building on Main Street, a gift of the Board of Trustees of Arispie Township.  With that stroke of good fortune, our Museum on Main began. By early 2007, we’d begun offering monthly programs to help tell the story of own local history as well as our citizens’ contributions and experiences in the larger world.


One of our first activities was to develop and design a logo and to ask one of our watercolor artists to paint it. We feel it emphasizes our unique connection to the local Native American heritage, as well as the hills that distinguish our area and the corn crops so important to the past, present, and future of our community. 


When our Museum on Main first opened its doors in August 2006 during our village’s celebration of Pow Wow Days, we emphasized a special exhibit focused on the history of Tiskilwa schools. More than 200 visitors flooded our tiny museum on that weekend alone!  And that museum was open every single Saturday – rain, shine, snow, heat, cold – from August 5, 2006 until February 1, 2009.  


At that time, we closed the old doors for six weeks in order to pack and move to our new facility, the former United Methodist Church, also on Main Street, and also a gift – this time from the United Methodist Conference of Peoria.  Our Grand Opening was on March 21, 2010, when Mother Nature greeted us on that first day of spring with a snowstorm! 

Through the seven years of our existence, we’ve continued to welcome an average of 15 visitors a weekend and scores more during town festivals and special museum events.  Our turn-out for our monthly evening programs has ranged from 35 to 120 guests. Since we have dozens of visitors during Pow Wow Days in August and again at Christmastime, our yearly count averages 1,400 visitors in the 55 days our doors are open.  Come on over to Tiskilwa and see what all the fuss is about!


Now that we’ve been in the new museum for more than three years, our numerous displays continue to grow and diversify.  In addition, in the Timeline Gallery, we offer a Special Exhibit which changes three times a year.  Recent displays have included local Native American artifacts, an overview of Tiskilwa’s commercial memorabilia 1880-1960, an exhibition of watercolors of local scenes, and the breezy display “Hang onto Your Hats!”


A warm and welcoming atmosphere is evident the minute you step in the door.  Parents need not nag their children with a constant barrage of “Don’t touch!” warnings, because everything that is not under glass is intended to be picked up and played with or examined.  We hope that you’ll come to visit soon and experience it for yourself.