The Roscoe flood of 1858


The 1882 Stone Bridge, near the site of the 1858 tragedy

Jim McAffee, a native of Rockton and a descendent of Roscoe's first recorded resident, Robert J. Cross, tells of an incident in which lives were lost during a flood of Kinnikinnick Creek in Roscoe. It was also recalled in a paper written by his ancestor Robert Cross, who stated that, "Notable events and the death of Rev. Horatio Ilsley's family by a flood in the south creek at midnight, June 3, 1857 [actually 1858]. The Madison branch of the Chicago and Galena Railroad had created a high embankment across the creek, one half mile above the train trestle."

McAffee explained that, "A log jam there caused the water to back up at what we used to call Ponser's Hill off Burr Oak Road. An old timer when I was a kid back in the 1970's, Harry Evans, used to take us kids around town and explain the history of Roscoe to us. The log jam location is from what I understood by what he told us."

Cross wrote, "There was a pond two miles long by half a mile wide and 25-30 feet deep" which was the result of the log jam. He noted, "The culvert caved in, the bank gave way and flooded the village, sweeping away many houses. The reverend caught hold of a tree branch and was rescued down by the river but all 8 members of his family died."

McAffee recalled being told that Ilsley's wife had been buried with an infant. All were buried in the Roscoe Cemetery and Ilsley, the pastor of the Roscoe Congregational Church, later left town.

In the early 1900s, a local Roscoe resident recalled that a man was seen one day spending time at the family gravesite, and the person who witnessed it believed it was Rev. Ilsley. This was reported in the Rockton Herald newspaper.

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