BRIEF HISTORY OF PECATONICA

Click here to see historic photos

Click here for Pecatonica Historical Society Home Page

The name Pecatonica can be traced to the Indian word "peeketolika", meaning "crooked river". Early settlers first arrived in the area in 1835. The first settlement was about 2 miles southeast of town. A small stone tavern was located there from 1842 to 1914, and was the halfway point on the Chicago to Galena stagecoach trail.

On July 1, 1845, President James K. Polk deeded 56.56 acres of "Indian territory", that is now downtown Pecatonica, to Dan Reed and his wife, Polly. Dan Reed "laid out" the roads and lots of a town he called "Peckatonick".

Speculative investors purchased the town from Dan Reed for $1500 in 1852 after word broke that the railroad was coming through and making a water stop station along the banks of the river. They changed the name of the town to its present day moniker of Pecatonica.

Dan Reed stayed in Pecatonica and built the Pecatonica House, and formed a partnership with A. J. Smith to build and operate a dry goods store. Both businesses did well serving the crews building the railroad. In September of 1853, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad commenced operation.

 

The town grew rapidly and was incorporated in 1869. In 1873 the Knowlton brothers, of Freeport, opened the first bank in town. Commerce expanded quickly after the bank opened. By 1880, both sides of Main street were solid business fronts for two blocks.

The "turn of the century" brought the "Interurban Railway" (electric streetcars) to Pecatonica. Almost a thousand people now lived in Pecatonica. Pecatonica was the only "wet" town in Winnebago County. Town officials extended drinking hours to 9:30 p.m. Thirsty drinkers from "dry" Rockford came in on the Interurban to quench their "thirst".

 

Pecatonica is now a quiet "traditional" community of over 1800 people. Pecatonica is the center of commerce for western Winnebago County. We are home to the Winnebago County Fairgrounds, support 6 churches, and boast one of the best school systems in the state. We have a wonderful park system. A nature trail now extends from both sides of town on the old railroad bed.

Pecweb