Historical Discovery Uncovered

By: Rebecca Burlette
By: Rebecca Burlette

As new development begins on South Main, the past is resurfacing as developers working to bring riverfront condos to the area unearth a historical discovery.

The project is supposed to help revitalize the southwest side of Rockford, but before developers can bring in bulldozers they had to call on an archaeologist to examine a mysterious mound.

“There's a possible burial mound on the property, recorded as such back in 1972, but law says you must avoid the mound since there could be Native American remains," says archeologist Tom Berres.

Tests have found no evidence of Native American artifacts, but through research Berres made an even more startling discovery. The land once belonged to Thatcher Blake.

“I thought, who's Thatcher Blake? Oh, he's the founder of Rockford. That's pretty amazing,” said Berres.

After making the discovery, Berres asked the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency to halt construction on the condos.

“This was the founder of Rockford. It's a very significant site. It shouldn't be cleared for construction. We need to do more work, further work,” says Berres.

The IHPA has denied Berres’ request and now he's counting on the help of volunteers from Midway Village to help dig for artifacts before time runs out.

“Wanted to see if we'd loan some of our man power. We said absolutely this doesn't come around every day,” said Dave Oberg of Midway Village.

On Monday, volunteers will begin digging in Thatcher Blake’s cellar where they hope to uncover some of Blake’s cups and dishes.

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