History of the New Philadelphia Association

What follows is a timeline for the process of preserving New Philadelphia, Illinois.  Join us to carry on with this task!

1996 – Local residents including Harry Wright, Phil Bradshaw, Pat Likes meet to discuss old sign at New Philadelphia town site, New Philadelphia Association formed

1998 – New sign placed at New Philadelphia

2001 – U of Illinois-Springfield partners with NPA to promote/explore New Philadelphia conservation

2002 – Conference held with University of Illinois-Springfield and archaeological walkover at town site

2003 – Archaeological Survey at site is done.

2004 – First of two grants from the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in conjunction with a partnership between NPA, Illinois State Museum and the New Philadelphia Archaeological Project. The University of Illinois field schools as well as students from several Universities were involved summers from 2004 through 2011. The annual June Likes Lecture Series started this year and continues to present.

2005 – The town site is named to the National Register of Historic Places and the state of Illinois designates 1-72 between Griggsville-Hull/Hannibal the Free Frank Memorial Highway. The Burdick House is bought—last original structure standing on site, built 1940’s.

2006 – The talking house like the one used in Pittsfield, IL, is installed at the site. Illinois State Senator De Muzio and President of the State Senate present grant to NPA—used to pay off Burdick House and land so that they could use it as collateral to buy more of the town site. Summer digs continue.

2007 – New Philadelphia lesson plans made available on the National Park Service “Teaching with Historic Places” website. Annual Likes Lectures in June continues.

2008 – Descendant and university professor Gerald McWorter gives copies of historic Free Frank papers and New Philadelphia to Barry Library, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and the U of Illinois at Chicago Library. Summer digs continue.

2009 – The Town site is designated as National Historic Landmark. Summer digs continue

2010 – The Archaeological Conservancy buys 9.14 acres of N.P. townsite for $45,000 to preserve it in case NPA can’t.   Annual Likes Lectures continue in June. Summer digs continue. First lot sponsorships.

2011 – Paul A. Shackel wrote “New Philadelphia-An Archaeology of Race in the Heartland” He was/is Professor and Chair of Anthropology at the University of Maryland and was in charge of several of the summer archaeological digs at New Philadelphia and the book details and process, some of what was found and how New Philadelphia should be preserved.

2012 – The Illinois State Museum magazine publishes a sixteen page issue dedicated to New Philadelphia Archaeology-the first ten years. Vo. 73, No.4-Fall 2011-Winter 2012. Illinois Rural Coop commits to a $75,000 grant to be given $7500 yearly over 10 years. Cannot be used to pay mortgages.

2013 – New Philadelphia is included in the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program and NPS stamp is delivered to Barry Library. The kiosk/pavilion is completed due to grant from Illinois Rural Cooperative grant and work from John Wood College students. Walkiing trail with historic signs is established on site.

2014 – U.S. President signs legislation to authorize National Park Service to conduct a special resources study of New Philadelphia’s qualifications to become a unit of NPS.

2015 – Several story signs are placed in kiosk and the virtual reality tour is added to the walking trail signs. Likes Lecture Series continues in June.

2016 – National Park Service special resources study started at New Philadelphia with a large group meeting at the Pittsfield Farm Bureau. Over 123 people came to give overwhelmingly positive input. No final report has yet been delivered. Preliminarily they like the NPA and local support and wonder if we should just keep it and they are mixed if there is enough to see. However less than 3% of National Park Units are about black United States citizens and we may not be here forever to keep it alive.

2017 – NPA raised enough by local residents and others sponsoring lots at NP plus a small grant to put a down payment on 20.3 acres of the town site that the Arnett estate had given NPA first chance at when it became available. We secured that land in Sept. 2018. New Philadelphia display at Smithsonian started.

2018 – Gerald McWorter and Kate Williams-McWorter wrote and got published a book on New Philadelphia and NPA started having presentations and sales for the book. Lots continues to be sponsored as a fund raising and memorial to local families program. Periodic contact with politicians in Washington

2019 – Park benches added to the site. Plans for signs for Burdick and Washington families started. The 200th anniversary of Free Frank McWorter was commemorated in September. Pittsfield High School History Club had two trivia nights to raise funds to sponsor two lots at New Philadelphia. NPA met twice with the Illinois director of Natural Resources to talk about getting planning help in pollinator plots or other period correct conservation techniques at the site.

2020 – Plans start to be part of the Pike County Bicentennial Celebration in 2021.