Pecatonica, Illinois

Pecatonica, Illinois is a village in Winnebago County, Illinois, United States. It is part of the Rockford, Illinois Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,997 at the 2000 census.


The Village of Pecatonica was incorporated in 1869, built on "Indian territory" previously deeded to the Reed family by President James K. Polk. State of Illinois Civil War records include soldiers from Lysander, as this was the area's common name before incorporation by rail speculators. The name Pecatonica is an English approximation of the Native American phrase Pee-kah-toh-lee-kah, meaning "murky meandering waters" or "crooked river". The Pecatonica River forms the village's northern border. The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad came through in 1853 from Chicago and continiued to Galena. That sparked the town to be the center of commerce for western Winnebago County. An electric street car line known as the Interurban ran from Rockford, IL through Winnebago, IL and Pecatonica to Ridott, IL and on to Freeport, IL until the line's eventual abandonment in 1973.

In Pecatonica a small depot building remains standing near Skinner's Auto Body and Forget-Me-Not Floral, just off the 300 block of Main St. For the portion of the rail line between Pecatonica and Winnebago the line often parallels the Pecatonica River. This route has since been reclaimed as a nature trail known as the Prairie Path, and with the exception of small portions of private property near Winnebago (there are roads to avoid this portion) it is possible to walk or bike this route today. C.W. Knowlton opened his first bank here in 1882 and built a beautiful Victorian home on Main Street on the hill overlooking the business district. It had been under restoration by Ed and Debbie Smith from 1983 until her untimely death in a car accident in 1993. Ed remarried 2 years later to Sandra, the church organist, and the restoration of the 22 room Queen Anne Victorian continued. It now stands as one of the finest Victorian home restorations in the northern Illinois region.

Prior to rail traffic, this region of Northern Illinois received stage coach traffic. A limestone house on Comly Rd. dates to this period, and there are permanent wagon wheel scars near a utility building for the 12 Mile Grove Cemetery, which is just hundreds of feet from the current corridor used by Route 20, a major East-West route through Northern Illinois. Further west, Route 20 parallels more roads which sometime bear the phrase "Stagecoach Trail". Another intriguing element of the past was found while connecting a house on 11th St. to utilities in the late 1980s. A wooden casket was found, buried very deep. It was believed that the person buried died of some disease presumed contagious, and thus the body was taken about a mile north from the current Route 20.

Hometown to J&J Tumbling and Trampoline which has produced several world class Athletes: 1988 Woman's Tumbling World Champion Megan Cunningham Gearhart (current Head Tumbling Coach) and also National Trampoline Team member Michael Devine who also tried out for the 2008 Olympics.

Rivalry and cooperation

There was a long-standing rivalry between the high school sports teams of Winnebago and Pecatonica. This rivalry was typified by the "Silver Bucket", a trophy engraved with a series of years and the victor of the football game between the teams that year. The game stopped being played sometime in the 1990s, as Pecatonica lost its football team due to lack of player interest and the Winnebago school district increased in size to the point that the two teams were no longer in the same competitive divisions. During this interim period in the early 1990s, the two teams were temporarily co-oped for football, making the trophy irrelevant.

In the 1990s other team co-ops continued. The Winnebago cross country team competed with members of Pecatonica High School for several years, again until Winnebago ultimately would have had to change divisions completely, as the combined enrollments of both high schools were used for determining division placement. Home events for the cross country team were held at the Fuller Forest Preserve, between Rockford and Winnebago. Some team practices during the co-op years were held on a portion of the Prairie Path beginning in Pecatonica, or at Seward Bluffs Forest Preserve, near Pecatonica.

Baseball, softball, and track and field co-op relationships with Durand High School were also created. In the case of track and field, the uniforms were a combination of colors of the two high schools but practices were held in Pecatonica.


Pecatonica is located at (42.309955, -89.358647).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 1.3 square miles (3.3 km²), of which, 1.2 square miles (3.2 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (1.59%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,997 people, 791 households, and 579 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,607.2 people per square mile (621.8/km²). There were 827 housing units at an average density of 665.6/sq mi (257.5/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 98.35% White, 0.25% African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.10% Asian, 0.25% from other races, and 0.90% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.60% of the population.

There were 791 households out of which 38.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.7% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.7% were non-families. 23.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the village the population was spread out with 27.2% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.9 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $47,361, and the median income for a family was $55,086. Males had a median income of $40,900 versus $27,143 for females. The per capita income for the village was $20,420. About 3.6% of families and 4.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.7% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.

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