S4, E2 – The New Philadelphia Story, with Marynel Corton

In this episode, we’re thrilled to share our conversation with Marynel Corton, the executive director of the New Philadelphia Museum. New Philadelphia is one of the most important historical communities in the U.S. and it’s located right here in rural Forgottonia!  

Although rural, western IL is sometimes known for being…well FORGOTTEN… there are a lot of notable folks from this region. We’ve got astronauts, movie stars, famous authors, professional athletes, and more. But perhaps our most important citizen is someone most folks have never heard of; a man named Frank McWhorter; or as some called him “Free” Frank McWhorter.  McWhorter was the 1st African American to found and plat a town in the U.S…and he did this 30 years before the Civil War began, just outside of the town of Barry, IL located in Pike County; 1 of the 16 counties today often referred to as Forgottonia.

Bust of Frank McWorter by his great-great-granddaughter Shirley McWorter Moss. It is located at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library)

We’re thrilled to share our discussion with Marynel Corton who is part of a team of folks, like her husband Jerry, that have long been fighting to preserve Frank’s story in our national memory. In this conversation, Marynel explains her own relationship to the NP story (which goes back 6 generations!). She shares why NP is important but often forgotten, and why it’s crucial to not let Frank’s story be forgotten any longer. As part of this podcast episode, we invite listeners to join Marynel’s efforts to help New Philadelphia gain status as a National Park by petitioning your representatives in Congress to support legislation. Visit the resources below to explore the ways you can get involved.

Cuba HS student Andrew Christian discusses New Philadelphia with Museum Director Marynel Corton

If you have any questions for Marynel, please feel free to reach out to her via the NP website or FB page, or you can post a comment on our website. We are also sharing a few blog posts written by Cuba High School students exploring a bit more about all things New Philadelphia and other communities in western Illinois that were organized during the 1830s.

RESOURCES

  1. New Philadelphia, Illinois – Free Frank
  2. Additional Audio taken from IL Adventure Episode about New Philadelphia
  3. New Philadelphia Association website
  4. New Textbook Edition Featuring the Frank McWhorter Story
  5. National Park Services lesson on New Philadelphia
  6. Washington Post Article from September, 2021 about Free Frank McWhorter
  7. New Philadelphia Association Facebook Page
  8. IL 17th District Contact Page for Congresswoman Cheri Bustos

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