Bishop Hill’s Steeple Building, part of a Swedish Utopia Society

Bishop Hill's Steeple Building, part of a Swedish Utopia Society

When visiting Bishop Hill, this quiet village is filled with buildings that have stood the trials of time.  I am fascinated by commuities that thrived and grew on the Illinois Prairie .  Erik Jansson and his followers came to Bishop Hill from Sweden seeking religous freedom.  Jansson had beliefs that were in contrast to the the Swedish Lutheran leadership. Imprisoned for activities like burning Luther’s cathecism, Jansson riled up authorities and wore out his welcome in his home country.  Taking a group of 1,000 believers, he set out for America where the immigrants had been told a new land, a Utopia awaited.

During the long oversea trip, ships sank and immigrants died of cholera leaving 400 that arrived at Bishop Hill to settle the new colony.  As the story unravels, the colonists almost perished the first winter, but those that hung on proceeded to eke out a living and settle in for the long haul creating a new society that today still has a lasting reaches.  For fifteen years the Colony thrived, through the murder of Jansson they proceeded on until financial collaspe finally caused the colony to dissolve.

Today, many buildings still stand, some are private residences, while others have been converted to stores and some, lucky for visitors, are open to the public to tour. The builing above, the Steeple Building now serves as a museum and along with many other buildings you can visit and learn the life and times of this Colony that rivals any Lifetime movie drama.  This immigration started the influx of Swedish immigrants.

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