By Marianne Mueller


Recently Rockton was named one of 10 “Most Charming Towns in Illinois, earning the number four spot on a compiled list. Galena ranked number one. Reasons listed for being chosen included buildings dating back to the 1800’s the Dairyhaus and Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit.

Those who live in Rockton and visitors reflect on different parts of town that they find most charming.

Joan Kole of Rockford says, “I love the local post offices; They are small, quaint and efficient, there is no waiting in long lines.”

The Village of Rockton’s charm runs beyond just appearances. Much of Rockton’s strength lies in its rich history, which is celebrated regularly at Macktown Living History and at Rockton Township Historical Society.

Macktown was founded by fur trader Stephen Mack Jr. in 1835. It is known as one of the area’s earliest settlements and was originally known as Pecatonic.

RTHS was formed in 1952 to prevent the demolition of the Stephen Mack home in the Macktown Forest Preserve. In 1993 the society purchased the house on Green Street to be used for additional museum space.

These two places are goldmines of knowledge of the town’s history.

Macktown is listed on the National Register of Historic places. RTHS has been honored with ‘Landmark’ status. The two organizations have teamed up to work together on different events while coming up with ways to keep Rockton’s history alive.

Macktown invites the public to take part in different events; many offering hands on learning or living history events. 

RTHS opens the Green St. Museum for tours when safe to do so. One of their newer events is a “Trash to Treasures Sale which is coming up again on May 14 and 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum. All are asked to please wear a mask while shopping. RTHS gives walking tours in the summer to allow everyone to learn a more detailed history of buildings and landmarks in Rockton.

Ample opportunities are opened for involvement in the community through joining a club or organization.  Volunteering is the perfect way to meet others if new to the area.

Family fun is offered year round at larger events such as Rockton Christmas Walk, Yeti Fest, Halloween fun at  Main Street Trick or Treat with Trunk or Treats,  Music in the Park, and the Rockton Lions Club Old Settlers Days; each event drawing in thousands of visitors annually. Being introduced as a new event on Saturday, May 22 is Rockton Pelican Fest.

On Memorial Day the Walter Graham American Legion Post 332 hosts a parade and a special ceremony at the Rockton Township Cemetery.

Rockton’s Main Street features a nice variety of businesses, including three of the longest running businesses. The Gem Shop & Diamond Source, Rockton Hardware and Dairyhaus have all been serving customers for over 40 years. Downtown buildings have been preserved nicely with a few new changes including some exposing the original brick on a few buildings. New paint, new signage and other improvements also have been made.

Williams Tree Farm on Yale Bridge Road has been providing family fun in different ways for the past 75 years. Nygren Wetlands Nature Preserve is a site where the best of nature can be seen.

Downtown Rockton is the best place to meet up with friends; especially if heading into DeeDee’s Main St. Coffee and Décor or Ray’s Restaurant.

“I love that Rockton has stayed historic and fairly small,” Sarah Baines, owner of Butler’s Emporium said. “Growing up in a village in England, Rockton is definitely a home away from home for me! Everything we need is right here, and I am proud to be part of a downtown business too!”

“The appeal of the small shops downtown and the community geared events throughout the year are what I feel makes Rockton charming,” said resident and community volunteer Terrie Garlow.

Talcott Library has a rich history dating back to June 29, 1888 when Wait Talcott gave the building to Rockton Township to be used as a Township Library providing that the town would organize under the laws of Illinois to vote to establish a tax to support the library. On Aug. 22, 1889 when it was dedicated. Today the library is expanding and offering more services when they reopen.

Rockton has a variety of different home styles; many holding great historic value. “Rockton has nice, quiet neighborhoods. My son bought a two bedroom home with a fenced in yard which is perfect for a single person and now his son lives with him,” Ginger Westin said. “I could live there very happily at 75.”

The population has continued to grow; much in part due to the reputation of Rockton offering an excellent school system. In addition to providing the best possible education Whitman Post Elementary School, Stephen Mack Middle School and Hononegah High School give students many options to get involved in their schools and in the community. Each ties into Rockton history nicely through school names.

Providing places of worship is another strong suit of the community. The four oldest of Rockton’s current six churches started with The Old Stone Congregational Church opening in the same year that Rockton was established; in 1838. Settlers met a year before to start planning to form a congregation.

Rockton United Methodist Church was founded in 1855. Prince of Peace Lutheran Church has been open for worship since 1962. The Church by the Side of the Road was built in 1965 and remains a popular wedding chapel. The church was once part of the Wagon Wheel. Each church holds a matchless beauty and charm both inside and out.

Rockton is so much more than a Village and a Township. It is the people and places that create its charming atmosphere; earning it another spot on a special list.

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