History of the Restoration Movement

Eureka College

Since 1855

Some Historical Information

As early as the 1820s people began settling in the central Illinois region now known as Woodford County. Eureka was initially known as Walnut Grove. Its earliest citizens were deeply religious and committed to the education of all people. The Christian church was strongest among the citizens. As early as 1847, community leaders saw the need for a school. Men like John T. Jones and William Davenport, prominent Christian ministers in Illinois, along with Elijah Dickinson, Ben Major, A.M. Myers, E.B. Myers, B.J. Radford, David Deweese, John Darst and others planted a school called Walnut Grove Seminary. The school began in the fall of 1849. In December of that year the school was renamed Walnut Grove Academy. In September, 1855 the academy was reconstituted as a college and called Eureka College. The school has continued under that name since.

As the part of Illinois where Eureka was a hotbed of restoration in the 18th century, many restoration related preachers and educators took part in the building of the school. However the greatest "claim to fame" in the history of the school is that one of its alumni was Ronald Reagan, our nation's 40th president. Reagan (1932) and his older brother, Neil (1933) both attended and were graduated from the college. The Reagan family, of Dixon, Illinois, had their roots deeply engrained in the Restoration Movement as well, making Eureka the natural selection for Ron and Neil to attend.

Today a special feature in the college is the Ronald Reagan Museum. It holds more than 10,000 personal and public objects that President Reagan donated to the school. As a special part of the collection is a piece of the "Berlin Wall," that resided in a central part of the campus. See pictures below.

The Eureka College campus continues to maintain a charm from its early days. Street names like Darst Street, Major Street, Callender Street and others can find their roots to the town's earliest settlers. Some of the old buildings that remain, the Burgess Memorial Hall, and the Burrus/Dickinson Hall, still stand and are reminders of a school that finds its roots in the 19 century.

If traveling in the area between Peoria and Bloomington, be sure to allocate some time to visiting the campus of Eureka College.

Location Of Eureka College

From Peoria - The city of Eureka is located just east of Peoria, Illinois on Hwy. 24. To find Eureka College go to the town center turn right on Hwy. 117 (S. Main St.) and Eureka College campus will be on your left. The GPS location of the college is: 40°42'49.3"N 89°16'11.6"W / or D.d. 40.713696,-89.269881

From I-74 - Between Bloomington and Peoria, Illinois, take the Hwy 117 (Exit 112) off I-74, and head north toward Eureka. You will pass the college on the right as you come into the downtown area. The GPS location of the college is: 40°42'49.3"N 89°16'11.6"W / or D.d. 40.713696,-89.269881

Eureka College Campus, 1890s
From History Of Eureka College, 1894

Statues Of Ronald Reagan & The Berlin Wall

LtoR - Wayne Kilpatrick, Scott Harp, & Tom L. Childers - June, 2009

Burrus Dickinson Hall

Burgess Memorial Hall

Burgess Memorial Hall
From History Of Eureka College, 1894

Special Thanks

In June, 2009 Tom L. Childers, C. Wayne Kilpatrick and Scott Harp traveled about 3000 miles in one week through parts of Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. During this time we found the graves of 75 church leaders in the Restoration Movement. Chronicling these leaders into websites has been time consuming. Many thanks to Tom and Wayne in helping to take photos, share the driving, and putting up with your web master's slave-driving effort to see as many as we did in the time we had. Their photos as well as some of mine are seen on this site.

See Olio Twp. Cemetery Map Here, Where College Founders & Builders Are Buried

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