The Vinsans Trace Chapter
In 1779, en route from Kaskaskia to the British fort at Vincennes, George Rogers Clark and his army of Virginia Militia followed a trail that passed through our area. In the early days of our country, this trail was known as the old Vinsans Trace and was the trail for settlers moving west. When researching records for a name for our chapter, the organizing members decided Vinsans Trace best represented our area.
We continue to research and promote study of the Vinsans Trace. To this effect, we have supported the commission of a bronze statue of Colonel Clark, which was placed on the Depot grounds and dedicated in October 2005. (The Depot is a National Trust Landmark.) In addition, we are participating with a local historian in the creation of a video which will include the history of our chapter and show some of the sites along the trail followed by Colonel Clark. This video will be a permanent addition to the Depot for public viewing.
How It Happened: The George Rogers Clark Statue in Flora, Illinois
It was simply a case of serendipity that Saturday morning in September 2004. This was the time of the Flora Academic Foundation's annual "Appleknocker Festival." And as luck would have it, Don Leroy Morris' wonderful wood carved statues were located in front of the local Vinsans Trace NSDAR booth at the festival.
Don Morris is a native of Clay County. He graduated in the class of 1955 from Flora Township High School. His talent is enormous...and we are so proud that he "hails" from Clay County in Southeastern Illinois.
On that Saturday morning in September 2004, there was a brief moment when the local DAR ladies could visit Don's booth and view all the beautiful carvings being displayed. The idea came up that the Vinsans Trace Chapter would truly like to have a statue of George Rogers Clark placed in Flora. After all, the chapter was named for his path through the area..."The Vinsans Trace."
After approaching Don with this idea, he agreed to go to the B & O Railroad Depot sitting along the "Vinsans Trace." And Don was impressed with the history and the project and said, "YES" when we asked him if he could create a George Rogers Clark statue!!
The Flora Community Development Corporation teamed up with the Vinsans Trace Chapter DAR to get the project going. Quilt raffle tickets were sold statewide and local donations solicited and the project was a "GO!" In just one year's time the statue was created by Don Morris and landscaping for the site was completed. Dedication was on October 8, 2005.
There are windows in time when serendipity serves to preserve our heritage. We are eternally grateful for the Guidance that put all of us in the right place at the right time to preserve a bit of Clay County's history.
This article was written by Mary Anne Ayers
Webmaster: Alice Williams, Vinsans Trace Chapter NSDAR
September 22. 2015