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Early Museum History



Museum in 1911

View of Catlin Heritage Museum in 1911.

The house in which the Catlin Heritage Museum is located was built about 1827 by Amos Woodin, a cooper, who worked his trade at the old Salt Works on the Salt Fork River, a little north of Butler's Point (Catlin) in the 1820s and 30s.

According to Lottie Jones in her History of Vermilion County Illinois, Vol. 1: "A building is yet standing at the edge of Catlin which is made of the brick, burned in the Twenties, by Francis Whitcomb, also one on the opposite side of the road constructed entirely of brick which was made at not much later a date." (The Whitcomb house referred to is now Rodney and Elinor Crawford's home and the other house is our museum house.)
Whitcomb house in 1911
The Whitcomb in 1911. This is the brick house built by Francis Whitcomb in the 1820s. It stands across the road from the museum.

Lottie Jones also states: "Francis Whitcomb went to Butler's Point from the saltworks, and took up the farm. The house he built is yet standing. Francis's son, Ira Whitcomb, married Cynthia Woodin, the daughter of his nearest neighbor, whose house yet stands across the road from the old Whitcomb house."

The Woodin house and land stayed in the Woodin family until 1866 when Jacob C. Sandusky purchased it. In 1879 Moses Boggess bought it and in 1899 E.P. Boggess and his wife, Hannah, sold it to Phebe A. Wilson, Hannah's sister.

Phebe Ann (Elliott) Wilson was the second wife of William Rice Wilson, a Civil War veteran, whom she married in 1888. The house was in bad condition and the Wilsons did not move from their home in Bismarck until 1903.

William Rice Wilson died August 12, 1918, in Catlin. Phebe, in December of 1919, sold the property to her son, Donald H. Wilson. Phebe continued to live in the house until her death in 1939. In her later years she spent the summers here in Catlin and the winters with her son who had moved to Apple River, Illinois, in September of 1919. Donald was a graduate of Illinois State Normal University and had taught school in Danville before going to Apple River. He served as principal in Apple River until his retirement. He died in 1972 at the age of 82. He and his wife, Matilda Jones Wilson (who died in 1966), are both buried in Jones Grove Cemetery.

In 1943 Donald sold the museum property to Frederick and Lillian Jones, his brother-in-law and sister-in-law. The Joneses sold it to Herschel and Gladys Ingram in 1945 and in March of 1988 the Catlin Historical Society purchased the house and grounds from the Ingram family.

The above information came from several sources, including: Amos Woodin's will; the abstract for the property; Mary Etta Host, who was born in the house in 1919, the daughter of Donald H. Wilson and the granddaughter of William Rice Wilson. Mary Etta and her husband, John, live in Hendersonville, North Carolina; and from Joe Hipple, Nevada City, California, a descendant of the Elliott and Boggess families. Also, as stated before, the History of Vermilion County Illinois, Vol. 1, by Lottie Jones (Chicago: Pioneer Publishing, 1911).

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