Behind the Project

Our project was recently featured on the Illinois Humanities program “Distributions People, Places, and Power – Fulton County Edition” (Our segment plays from 7 min – 16 min).

Welcome to The Forgottonia Project!  We are a high school classroom project that seeks to examine the history, culture, and social problems we currently face in rural America. This project is produced by students and teachers at Cuba H.S. located in Fulton County, 1 of 16 rural counties in the western part of the state of Illinois.  Our title, Forgottonia, refers to a tongue-in-cheek movement during the 1970s that began largely because many rural Americans in Western Illinois felt policymakers were ignoring their region in favor of larger, metropolitan areas.

A foundation of our project is IL Social Science Inquiry Standard #9 which seeks to apply democratic strategies & procedures to address local, regional, or global concerns as well as take action in or out of school.

While several students, teachers and community members collaborate to create content for our project, there are a few key contributors you should know.

joseph-brewer*Joe Brewer – Mr. Brewer is the social science and history teacher at Cuba High School.  He received a degree in Social Science Education from Olivet Nazarene University in 2006 and is working to complete a M.A. in Sociology from WIU.  Mr. Brewer resides in Cuba, IL and enjoys reading, coaching, wrestling with his dogs, and spending time with his wife and stepsons.



Jessica Brewer – Mrs. Brewer is the art and technology teacher at Cuba High School who designed our tremendous logo.  She works with students both designing, editing, and sharing our content.  She received a B.A. in art education from Monmouth College and an M.A. in instructional technology and design from WIU.  In her spare time, Mrs. Brewer enjoys what could be described as “expressing creative behavior.”


allyssaAlyssa (Hall) AndersonMs. Anderson is a Sociology instructor at Western Illinois University and contributes content to our blog and podcast.  She is also a 2003 graduate of Cuba High School and currently resides in Cuba with her two daughters, Jayna and Reese.   Alyssa received a B.A. in sociology from WIU in 2007 and an M.A. in sociology from WIU in 2009. Being a resident of a small rural town, her Sociology classes helped her to understand the changes she had witnessed in her own home town.    

Image result for trenton ellis

Trenton Ellis – Dr. Ellis is a professor and sociologist working at Blacks Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota.  Originally hailing from Forgottonia (Canton, IL), Dr. Ellis was one of our first interviews and got us really excited about podcasting. He received his PhD in the Department of Sociology and Rural Studies at South Dakota State University, and an MA in Sociology at Western Illinois University.  As a sociologist, Dr. Ellis is passionate about researching ways to build more sustainable and resilient rural communities.  In his spare time, he enjoys listening to podcasts, cooking, reading about rural America, and exploring on his mountain bike.


Check out these links below for more information about Forgottonia


Neil Gamm and the Forgottonia story was once featured on the History Channel show “How the States Got Their Shape.” Watch the segment from this episode on YouTube.
Detailed account of history and highways in Forgottonia on
PJ Star
Here is a link to an excellent article from the Peoria Journal Star on January 1, 2011 shortly after Neil Gamm passed away – “Gone but Not Forgotten.”
No way! In case you didn’t believe us, Forgottonia really does have its own Wikipedia page.
Great blog post by Doug Peterson entitled “Remembering Our 51st State.”

forgottonia project

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