Toulon celebrates town’s history with 143rd Old Settler’s Day

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TOULON, Ill. (WMBD) — Neighbors in Toulon gathered this weekend to celebrate the settlers before them who called the city home.

Despite the challenges from COVID-19, organizers faced setting up this year’s Old Settler’s Day, the are glad the history of their town is getting the recognition they say it desrves.

A city rich in history and tradition, Old Settler’s Day in Toulon looks to shine a spotlight on the historical features the town has to offer. Tom Talbert, a former resident of Toulon said the city has a rich history many don’t know about.

“This was a stop – a whistle-stop along the underground railroad, Frederick Douglas spoke here on the courthouse lawn, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debated on this lawn, separate days, but they debated,” Talbert said.

Over the past few years, the Stark County Historical Society has restored artifacts from the 1800’s including artifacts from Dr. Thomas Hall, a pioneer of medicine in Stark County. Talbert, who now lives in Iowa said he is still a member of the county’s historical society and comes back every year for the event.

“I come back every year, because it has that connection with you, this is your roots,” Talbert said.

With the ongoing pandemic, organizers had to make some changes and face challenges they’ve never seen. Carol Rice, president of the Stark County Historical Society said almost all events are being held outdoors.

“I know they had to eliminate a lot of activities, and almost everything is being done outside,” Rice said.

The four day long event includes a parade, historical tours and many other family friendly events. Rice said there’s something everyone can enjoy.

“A lot of vendors are here in the courthouse, different people have food set up, we’re having a parade here soon, they had a tractor pull last (Friday) night,” Rice said.

Despite setbacks, Rice said the importance of celebrating remains the same.

“People have been cooped up for a long time, and it’s been hard to get out,” Rice said. “I think people are ready to get out and be around people, but be so safely, and we’re just trying to celebrate our town.”

The event concluded Sunday at noon and takes place every year the first weekend of August.

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