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Founders Day spotlight on Devine family

Dixon Historic Center, event host, also an honoree

Published: Thursday, March 28, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

DIXON – The Devine family will be the focus of the sixth annual Dixon Founders Day celebration, which will be held April 11 at the Dixon Historic Center, 205 W. Fifth St.

Founders Day commemorates April 11, 1830, the day John Dixon, his wife, Rebecca, and their children settled near what is now the corner of First Street and Peoria Avenue downtown.

“We are continuing the great tradition of highlighting prominent, historical families in our community by honoring the Devine family this year,” Josh Albrecht, executive director of Dixon Main Street, said in a news release.

“It is always an interesting event to learn about our city’s great history.”

Local historian Greg Langan will present the program highlighting John Devine, the son of Irish immigrants, who graduated from Dixon College Law School and passed the Illinois bar exam in 1905.

One hundred years ago, Devine took a seat in the Illinois General Assembly, where he would serve the next 24 years. The Democrat was speaker of the House in 1935, then returned to practice law, Albrecht said in the release.

Also that evening, the Langan Lifetime Achievement in Local History Award will be given to a local historian for his or her work preserving the local heritage.

“Last year, we surprised Pat Gorman with the Langan award for his work in the community,” Albrecht said in the release. “For this year’s award, the committee knew right away who the worthy historian would be.”

The Main Street Design Committee also will honor the Dixon Historic Center with the McAlpine Award, formerly known as the Private Reinvestment in Downtown Excellence, or PRIDE award.

It is given to local business and building owners who reinvest in their buildings with an eye toward the historical nature of the building and the district.

The Historic Center has reinvested millions of dollars into the old school building to create a state-of-the-art museum. Most recently, it added interactive exhibits on early farming and the Black Hawk War.

“Our community is lucky to have this caliber of a museum,” Albrecht said in the release. “We are very thankful for everything they have been able to accomplish in preserving this historic building.”

The Lee County Historical Society will give a short presentation on the history of the Lincoln Highway, which runs through part of Lee County and through downtown Dixon, and which this year celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Representatives from the Galena Trail and Coach Road Society also will be on hand to give information about the historic road and its influence in Dixon’s history.

The historical society’s mission is to preserve and celebrate the unique history of the Trail and Coach Road and build on that heritage as a vehicle to promote the future of its communities. The historic trail crosses eight counties from Peoria to Galena and links some 21 local communities along its route.

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