Bishop Hill, Illinois

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Bishop Hill is a village in Henry County, Illinois, along the South Edwards River. The population was 125 at the 2000 census. It is the home of the Bishop Hill State Historic Site, a park operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

Contents

Geography

Bishop Hill is located at 41°12′3″N 90°7′6″W / 41.20083°N 90.11833°W / 41.20083; -90.11833 (41.200711, -90.118327).[1]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 0.5 square miles (1.4 km²), all of it land.

History

Erik Jansson

The village was founded in 1846 by Swedish immigrants affiliated with the Pietist movement, led by Erik Jansson. Prior to founding the Bishop Hill Colony, Jansson preached to his followers in Sweden about what he considered to be the abominations of the Lutheran Church and emphasized the doctrine that the faithful were without sin. As Jansson's ideas became more radical, he began to lose support from many of his sympathizers and was forced to leave Sweden in the midst of growing persecution. Jansson had previously sent Olof Olsson, a trusted follower, as an emissary to the United States to find a suitable location where the Janssonists could set up a utopian community centered around their religious beliefs. According to Jansson, this community would become the "New Jerusalem", and their beliefs would soon spread across the world. As a result, 1400 colonists emigrated from Sweden to their new home in western Illinois.

The colony struggled early on after its founding. Many of the first 1000 colonists died from disease on the way to Bishop Hill (named for Eric Jansson's birthplace, Biskopskulla), while others became disillusioned and stayed in New York. The quarters in Bishop Hill were cold and crowded and food was scarce. After the first winter, life at the colony began to improve. In the next few years housing was upgraded from dugouts to brick living areas, and crops were planted on 700 acres (2.8 km2) of land. By 1849, Bishop Hill had constructed a flour mill, two sawmills, a three story frame church, and various other buildings. The Bishop Hill Colony was communistic in nature, as dictated by Jansson. Thus, everything was owned by everyone and no one had more possessions than another. Work in the colony was highly rigorous and regimented. It wasn't uncommon to see hundreds of people working together in the fields or large groups of laborers engaged in other tasks.

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