Caledonia, Illinois, was a farming community that just disappeared over time. Caledonia was established in 1828 as a small country town on the Ox-Bow Prairie, between three and four miles west of Magnolia in Putnam County. It is in the midst of an old-settled region, and the first post office in the county existed in this vicinity. A schoolhouse was erected in 1832. There were three houses upon its site in July of 1836, when the town was laid out by Asahel Hannum, Jervas Gaylord, and Obed Graves. Several blocks in the town plot were vacated in 1841 by Legislative enactment.
A small Methodist church was erected near it in 1854 and a Baptist church in 1857. The town occupied about ten acres of land and contains a population of some seventy-five persons, with two stores, a blacksmith's shop, and a wheelwright's establishment. The Ox-Bow post office was located there; named Ox-Bow, because there was already a post office named Caledonia in Pulaski County, and the Caledonia Cemetery.
The town was also referred to as "Ox-Bow" in some newspaper articles during that time. An 1873 newspaper article states that the school in Caledonia was teaching at least 50 children that year. It seems as if Caledonia faded away after the disgruntled postmaster purposely neglected to re-apply for a license to run the Ox-Bow post office. The locals considered losing the post office a huge blow to the community.
The lack of a coal mine seems to have been detrimental to most of the villages that disappeared in this area around that time as well. Locals referred to the intersection of IL Route 18 and 1150th road as "Caledonia Corner," and understand that to be the general location of the town. A small house stands on that corner and has been there for a very long time. It once served as a "roadhouse" speakeasy.
1845 Businesses in Caledonia, Illinois.
- Benjamin Brewer - Blacksmith
- J.C. Fetter - Physician
- J.W. Forney - Cabinet Maker
- John Mc Williams - Blacksmith
- John Robertson - Wagon Maker
- Joseph Funk - Wagon Maker
- Kendrick & Crawford - Dry goods, Food Groceries, Hardware, Queens Ware, Boots, Shoes, etc.
- P.G. Young - Physician
Note: Queens Ware is (ceramics) a type of light white earthenware with a brilliant glaze developed from creamware by Josiah Wedgwood and named in honor of his patroness, Queen Charlotte.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.