The Harrison-Bruce Historical Village
Private tours may be arranged. Volunteer docents serve as guides for groups or persons wishing to learn more about local history beginning from the early 1800s. Tours are free and last approximately 1 ½ hours. For more information about scheduling tours, or to inquire about becoming a Village Docent, please contact email@example.com or (618) 985-2828 Ext. 8343.
- Historical Village Information (PDF)
- Information & Guidelines for Use of Mees Centre and the Harrison-Bruce Historical Village (PDF)
- Mees Centre Photos (PDF)
- Guest Wi-Fi (PDF)
Robert L. Mees Village Centre
The Robert L. Mees Village Centre was named for the sixth President of John A. Logan College. The Centre serves as the hub of the Harrison/Bruce Historical Village by providing a venue for College and community events. As the College and the Julia Harrison Bruce and Fred G. Harrison Foundations began to discuss construction of the various structures in the Village, it was apparent the success of the Village depended upon the ability to host meetings at the location. By making meeting space available, participants would have opportunity to stroll through the Village as part of the program for various events. That was key to ensuring the maximum number of people could experience the rich look at local history the Village offers.
Purdy School served as a one-room public school in Perry County, IL from 1860-1951. Due to an increasing population and the county consolidating the schools, Purdy School ended classes. The building was purchased in 1981 by Mr. and Mrs. Harold Rice. Mr. and Mrs. Rice gave Purdy School to John A. Logan College Foundation as a gift to use as a historic building. On September 16, 19…83 the Julia Harrison Bruce Foundation generously had the school building moved to the John A. Logan College campus. Purdy School is now used as a one-room school to show public students the history of the school setting. Retired school teachers now serve as guides for the one-room school experience.
Julia Harrison Bruce House
This house was built in 1868 by David Ruffin Harrison who lived in it with his first wife Julia A. Walker Harrison (1836-1874) and their children: George H. Harrison (1861-1950), Annabel “Annie” (1864-1926), Albert (1867-1940), LuElla “Ella” (1869-1928), and baby Julia (1874-1874). D.R.’s daughter Anna married Edward Everett Mitchell, a prominent Carbondale banker. “Ella” married John C. Hundley, another of Carbondale’s prominent citizens, and it was Ella Harrison Hundley and her husband who were the victims of the notorious 1928 murders in Carbondale’s Hundley House. D.R. Harrison’s mother, Delilah Phillips Herrin Harrison, or “Little Grandma”, (1815-1899) also lived in the Harrison House as did D.R.’s second wife Elizabeth “Libby” Fellows Backus Harrison, or “Big Grandma”, (1839-1899).
In the fall of 1899, following the deaths of his wife and mother, D.R. Harrison left his farm at Herrin’s Prairie and moved into Herrin where he built a new house at 201 S. 13th St.; this house is now the inner core of the Johnson-Hughes Funeral home. On Saturday, April 7, 1900 he held a public auction of all his personal property including horses, mules, hogs, and farm implements as well as household and kitchen furniture at his “old brick residence in Herrin’s Prairie”. (The First National Bank of Herrin was also organized in April of 1900 with D.R. Harrison as President. He had first gone into banking in 1895, organizing Herrin’s first Exchange Bank, which later became the First National Bank.) D.R. Harrison sold his 400 acre farm, including the Harrison House, to the Chicago & Carterville Coal company, a firm organized by his son-in-law E.E. Mitchell, and later known as the C.W. & F. Coal Co. From 1901-1936 the Harrison House was home to mine superintendents; then in 1936 it came back into the Harrison family as the home of D.R. Harrison’s great nephew Leonard Pope until 1946 when he sold the house to Sam and Ruby Talley.
After being out of the family for nearly three decades, D.R. Harrison’s granddaughter Julia Harrison Bruce arranged to purchase the house from Sam and Ruby Talley as her personal way of celebrating our nation’s bicentennial. The sale was completed September 5, 1975. The china displayed on the dining table as well as some of the books in the Harrison House Collection belonged to the Talley Family. There are also numerous artifacts in the Harrison House that came from the Pope family. Local craftsman Martin Bruyns and Julia’s husband Carl Bruce spent the next year and a half performing extensive restorations on the house and in the construction of the log cabin in back replicating the one in which the D.R. Harrison family lived prior to the construction of the brick house in 1868. Julia Harrison Bruce and her cousin Julia Mitchell Etherton cut the ribbon for the grand re-opening of their grandfather’s house on July 26, 1977.
This “double dog trot” style log cabin is a replica of the cabin the David Ruffin Harrison family occupied prior to the construction of the brick, “Harrison House”. The replica cabin was located just north of the brick house on the approximate site of the original Harrison Log Cabin. It was still under construction when the Harrison House Museum opened in 1977; the builders were Carl Bruce and Martin Bruyns.
The Harrison Log Cabin is divided into two pens, one on the east side containing a general store exhibit and one on the west side containing pioneer household artifacts, such as the Stotlar spinning wheel, a Kentucky rifle, and a cider press, as well as carpenter’s tools and farm tools.
Between the two pens is a concrete-floored breezeway, or “dog trot”. Entry into each of the two pens is gained by way of the dog trot through a door in the center of each of the inner walls. In pioneer times this floor plan provided a way of separating the kitchen, with its eternal fire, from the living quarters during summer months. It also provided for a covered passage between the two pens during inclement weather. The dog trot was used as a back porch might be used today – for casual storage, as a sheltered entrance, and as a place for the dog to rest.
Emmanuel Hunter built the Hunter Log Cabin in 1818; the year Illinois became a state. The cabin was located northeast of Marion and east of Whiteash, IL. In 1818 the government was opening up territory in the free state of Illinois and the then slave state of Texas, for veterans of the War of 1812. Emmanuel did not like slavery and decided to move his family from Tennessee to Illinois. While in Tennessee, Emmanuel served in the military with several commissions, fighting in the War of 1812 and in 1814 serving with Andrew Jackson in fighting the Creek Indians. In 1832 he served in the Black Hawk War. When he built the cabin, Emmanuel and his wife Judith Lee Hunter had six children. Originally, there was a loft in the cabin with an opening near the fireplace. The children slept in the loft. In February 2005 Richard H. Hunter purchased the cabin from Wendell E. Grant who then owned the original Emmanuel Hunter homestead. Richard donated the cabin to the Jacob Hunter Trust, named after the Revolutionary War soldier Jacob Hunter, who was Emmanuel Hunter’s father. In July 2005 the Jacob Hunter Trust donated the cabin to John A. Logan College. Dr. Robert L. Mees, President of John A. Logan College, saw the historical and educational value of restoring this historic cabin and applied for a grant from the Julia Harrison Bruce Foundation. In 2006 the Foundation provided a generous grant that allowed for the reconstruction on the Logan College campus. The reconstruction was completed in the summer of 2007. Approximately 80% of the logs are original.