“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Pocahontas in Bond County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)


Muscle, Metal, and Merchandise

Pocahontas Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, January 3, 2020
1. Pocahontas Marker
Inscription.  The village square may be quiet today, but from the mid-1800s through the early 1900s, the ring of hammers bending iron and shaping steel echoed down these streets.

Northwest of where you stand, blacksmiths shaped horseshoes, linked chains, rounded wheel rims, and made vital repairs that kept wagons rolling and stagecoaches running on the National Road.

Working with muscle, metal, and flame, blacksmiths readied ploughshares for planting, forged carpenters' tools, sharpened knives, adzes, and axes, and made hardware for shops, homes, and farms. Their craft improved life in Pocahontas, and made travel possible on the National Road.

From Kettles to Carbide

What do cookware, clothing, and carbide lamps have in common? You could buy them at the general store.

General stores were all-purpose retail shops. Everyday items such as groceries and hand tools were always in demand. They appeared in general stores along the length of the National Road.

But a general store's merchandise also reflected the character of its community. In the early 1900s, Pocahontas' economy broadened
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to include coal production. General stores such as DeLaurenti's and the Pocahontas Mercantile Co. adapted their hours and inventory to accommodate miners. Along with cutlery, shoes, and sewing machines, the stores stocked mining tools and accessories, such as carbide lamps.

Photo captions:

Simon Brown purchased Pocahontas Mercantile Co. in 1905. He operated the business for 20 years.

Shown here circa 1920, John and Mary DeLaurenti's general store offered a wide variety of goods, including groceries, patent medicines, clothes, ammunition, and miner's tools and accessories.

As mass-produced goods eliminated the need for blacksmiths, some found new trades, while others used their skills and shops in a related field: automobile sales and repair. In Pocahontas, the J.W. Long, Blacksmith & Wagon Repair Shop became Long's Garage. Shown here circa 1920, the building still stands northwest of the square.

Constructed south of the village in 1906, Pocahontas Mine operated until 1942. At the height of production, about 500 coal miners worked in the mine.


A Road of Dirt, Rock, And Dreams

In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson signed legislation to provide federal funding for a National Road. Surveyed from Cumberland, Md., to the Mississippi River, the National Road was a highway
Pocahontas Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, January 3, 2020
2. Pocahontas Marker
Located in the town square
for pioneers eager to settle the West.

Today, as US 40, the National Road in Illinois spans 164 miles. From Indiana to East St. Louis, you can still see how the ambitions and accomplishments of early Illinois immigrants shaped our communities. You'll find their influence in our art and architecture, our industry and agriculture, and in our way of life. Enjoy your time on the Road.
Erected 2015 by National Road Association of Illinois.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRoads & VehiclesSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the The Historic National Road series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1905.
Location. 38° 49.683′ N, 89° 32.452′ W. Marker is in Pocahontas, Illinois, in Bond County. Marker is at the intersection of State Street and Park Street, on the right when traveling east on State Street. Marker is located at the northwest corner of the town square. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 108 East State Street, Pocahontas IL 62275, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Hills Fort (approx. 4.2 miles away); Vandalia Railroad Depot (approx. 7.9 miles away); Greenville Public Library (approx. 8.1 miles away);
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Greenville (approx. 8.1 miles away); Third Street Jail (approx. 8.1 miles away); Kendall Morse Town House (approx. 8.1 miles away); Turret Building (approx. 8.2 miles away); Dennis H. Rinderer (approx. 8.2 miles away).
Also see . . .  Pocahontas. From the Illinois National Road's YouTube channel, this is a short video that talks about the history of the small town. (Submitted on January 4, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 4, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 3, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 387 times since then and 64 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on January 4, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 7, 2023