Sitting in pride of place, atop one of the highest points in St. Clair County, Illinois, you will find Engelmann Farm – winding trails through former farmland offer an exceptional view of the Shiloh Valley, virgin forests, and historic homes that remain provide a glimpse into the rich history of the land.

At nearly 150 acres, it’s sadly not shocking that in 2007, this incredible land was slated to be chopped up by development – Thankfully, we never have to know what might have been because local historians and St. Clair County leaders partnered with HeartLands Conservancy to preserve this land for its incredible historical significance and pristine woodland to become a public park in St. Clair County.

The importance of Engelmann Farm does not solely lie in its existence as an early family farmstead (though it is an excellent example). The farm signifies the first large wave of German immigration to Illinois and spotlights a group of educated and idealistic figures who helped shape the American nation.

Engelmann Farm Trail photo credit MEPRD

A view of the trail at Engelmann Farm. Photo by Metro East Park and Recreation District.

Engelmann Farm Cemetery credit MEPRD

Historic Family Cemetery on the property (Photo Credit: Metro East Park and Recreation District)

Prairie Trillium (Trillium recurvatum)

The historic home in winter (Anna’s former residence). This home is not open to the public. 

Immigrating to the United States in 1833, political émigré Friedrich Theodor Engelmann (1779-1854) and his wife, Elizabeth Kipp Engelmann (1781-1861), purchased the farm in the late summer. The former farmstead represents the first great surge of German migration to Illinois, a state where Germans have long since been the largest ethnic group. The Engelmann’s opened their home to many political exiles and other immigrants, providing temporary quarters upon arriving in the region.

Many illustrious characters found refuge and spent time at the Engelmann’s farm, including Gustave Koerner and Georg Engelmann.

Fleeing political retribution, Gustave Koerner immigrated to the United States because of his friendship with the Engelmann family, later making his home in St. Clair County with his wife, Sophie Engelmann. A German-American revolutionary, journalist, lawyer, politician, judge, and statesman, Gustave Koerner was a confidant of President Abraham Lincoln and played an essential role in his nomination and election for president in 1860.

Georg Engelmann spent time with the family at Engelmann Farm and later settled in St. Louis. Georg Engelmann was both a physician and a botanist, who served as the key scientific advisor to Henry Shaw, ensuring that the eventual Missouri Botanical Gardens would be available as a botanical research facility, as well as a space for people to discover beautiful flora.

Anna M. Engelmann (1869-1960), the daughter of Col. Adolph Engelmann and granddaughter of Fredrich Engelmann, lived most of her entire 91 years in the house that sits across the road from the cemetery. As the last Engelmann to live on the property, Anna provided remarkable recollections of the woods and surroundings,

“We lived so very near the woods with only the yard and road intervening between it and the house. Even in infancy we oft-times went into it, spending many hours sitting on its shady hillslope… Looking from our kitchen windows into the woods was appreciated by us. Many an evening when seated at supper the light of the setting sun falling between the tree trunks was lovely. Many, many Sundays Otto, my father, my brother, and I walked to church over the beautiful carpet of Oak leaves in the winter. In times of wind, we loved the sound of it in the tree branches. At night when it roared in the trees we felt especially thankful for home and a good roof over us.”

 

Preservation of Engelmann Farm not only provides the opportunity for future generations to see a glimmer of the lands Anna grew up with but also provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the hard work and determination of those who came before us.

Engelmann Farm is located at 309 Shiloh Station Road, Shiloh, IL and is owned by St. Clair County.

Learn more about the park on our explore page.

 

Large-flowered Bellwort

A group walk at Engelmann Farm 

0