Ottawa celebrates the 150th end of the Civil War with bell ringing.

Church bells will be ringing April 9 at 2:15 p.m.


1875 - First Methodist Episcopal ChurchOn April 9, 1865, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant met Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to set the terms of surrender of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at the Appomattox Court House located in Appomattox, VA 24522.

The Civil War did not officially end that day or in that place, but it did start the dissolution of the southern Confederacy. April 26, 1865, saw the surrender of Joe Johnston with 30,000 troops at Bennett Place, N.C.


In Ottawa, Illinois, Judge John Caton had private army telegraph equipment and line in his home. Caton had received the news of Lee’s surrender in the evening on the private telegraph line to his home.
Col. T. Lyle Dickey (4th ILL Cav.) joined Judge John Caton and attorney Lorenzo Leland in creating bonfires burning near their homes on the north bluff of Ottawa, Illinois. They felt the bonfires would be the way to spread the news.
Before long the home of prominent abolitionist John Hossack on the south bluff of Ottawa, overlooking the Illinois River also lit up a bonfire.
All this activity signaled to the town of Ottawa, Illinois that the Clvi War was at an end.


On April 9, 2015, The Reddick Mansion Association is inviting people to meet in Washington Square for observation of the 150th end to the Civil War. Several Ottawa churches are expected to join in with their bells, including Christ Episcopal Church and the First Congregational United Church of Christ. Both of these churches are to the east of Washington Square.


The choral group from Illinois Valley Community College also will be in the park singing as part of the observation. After the bell ringing, the lower level of the 1858 Reddick Mansion will be open and offering free coffee, lemonade and cookies to all participants.


terms-surren_12865_lgThe historic precedent for this comes from the National Park Service, which states; that a historic bell will be rung at Appomattox in Virginia at 3:00 pm Eastern. Then bells will reverberate across the country starting at 3:15 for four minutes. Each minute representing each year of the war.  A NPS teaching resource packet can be found here.


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  1. Pingback: The Greatest Honor is showing in Ottawa on May 9th and 10th. | Ottawa History

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