Ditch Tavern was the first hotel in Waterloo located on North Main Street, run by David and Hannah Ditch.
David H. Ditch had acquired the land on which Waterloo was built by entry from the government. The land was purchased by George Forquer in 1818. Then lots were sold in the town by Forquer and Daniel Cook as early as 1818.
Such was the Old Ditch Tavern. It was there that Thomas Ford spent his younger years long before he ever dreamed that he would be governor of Illinois. It was there that the first court was held when the county seat was moved from Harrisonville to Waterloo because of the former’s proximity to the river and the danger of flooding. It was there that Judge Silas Bryan, father of William Jennings Bryan, made his headquarters when in Waterloo, presiding as circuit judge.
This property was later acquired by Judge William Morrison, who maintained the place and its prestige until his death. The tavern is no longer standing.
Ford/Kaskaskia Cahokia Trail Monument
Plaques in honor of Thomas Ford and marking the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail (KCT) were placed by the Monroe County Historical Society on a concrete obelisk at the Waterloo Firehouse on North Main Street. This monument still stands today.
Near this marker stood the boyhood home of Thomas Ford, 1800-1850, eighth governor of Illinois. He held many public offices before serving as governor from 1842 to 1846. His mother, Elizabeth Forquer Ford, a pioneer school teacher, raised her seven children in a log house on the west side of Main St. just south of the Ditch Tavern, where the first court in Waterloo was held. Mrs. Elizabeth Ford reached Monroe County in 1804 as a widow leaving Pennsylvania for St. Louis. After settling a few other places nearby, the family moved to the site of Waterloo where George Forquer bought land in 1818 and along with Daniel P. Cook laid out the original town of Waterloo. George Forquer was elected to represent Monroe County in the House of Representatives but resigned to accept the position of Secretary of State. He was elected by the Legislature to the post of Attorney General and served as State Senator from Sangamon County.
Thomas Ford became a lawyer and served as State’s Attorney of the Fifth Judicial District and became Judge of the Circuit Court for the northern part of the State. He was elevated to the State Supreme Court and then elected the eighth Governor of Illinois. Ford county is named in his honor. He is buried in Peoria, Illinois. Elizabeth Ford is buried in Waterloo.
This monument is also one of the original markers of the Kaskaskia Cahokia Trail (KCT): “40 miles to Kaskaskia, 20 miles to Cahokia. Here passed the ancient trail, trod first by buffaloes and Indians, then by explorers, traders and French settlers of Kaskaskia and Cahokia. Revolutionary War soldiers with George Rogers Clark made the first permanent American settlements along the trail in the 1780s.”
The KCT can be traced to American Indian people around 11,000 BC whose migrations created the trail for economic trade, government and social/religious purposes. These first Indian peoples over time built large civilizations with mound cities along the trail. Indians’ use of the trail continued into historic periods, introducing the route to the first French explorers and colonists in the late 1600s. The colonial villages and overland KCT led to other forts and settlements over the next 100 years along the east side of the Mississippi River Valley. This first road spawned other routes for expanded growth that led to Illinois becoming the 21st state in 1818.
Today, the 60-mile long KCT connects visitors with many opportunities to discover the region’s diverse history. In 2014, the Illinois General Assembly proclaimed the KCT as an Illinois Historic and Scenic Route. Monroe, Randolph and St. Clair Counties and their respective municipalities are working together to improve and promote this historic and scenic corridor for the world to explore, appreciate and enjoy. You can now find trail signs along the entire driveable route!
Roger’s Female Seminary
One of the early educational institutions of Monroe County was the Rogers’ Female Seminary which opened in Waterloo on September 20, 1872. The teachers, officers and subjects were: Alice Hendrickson, Matron; Maria N. Rogers (Mrs. Ambrose Hoener) Principal; Mary N. Rogers (Mrs. Henry Talbott) Latin and Vocal Music; M. E. Bailey, French and Instrumental Music; Madame Hambuechen, German and Mathematics. The building stood on the west side of North Main Street, just south of the DePuyt home.