About the Village of Downs
Location, Location, Location
You might call the Village of Downs, located in central Illinois, prime real estate. Native Americans and early pioneers competed for this rolling prairie over 180 years ago because of its favorable location and abundant natural resources. When the Kickapoo Indians first discovered the land’s value, they set up a trading post just west of the Kickapoo Creek, along what is now U.S. Highway 150. Then around 1829, settlers migrated to McLean County and nestled a small community called Delta at the same site.
In 1869, the Indianapolis Bloomington and Western Railway Company ran a line from Indianapolis to Peoria, and Delta literally moved closer to the rail. A few buildings were dismantled and reconstructed further south, and the town’s name changed to Priceville in honor of John Price who owned the land near the tracks. Over time, Priceville prospered with several barbershops, churches, doctors, grain elevators, hotels, restaurants, stores, bank, hardware, livery barn, and lumber yard.
As the community’s population increased, so did its educational needs. By 1895, the modest one-room Spring School House (built near Delta in 1842) transformed three times in Priceville to become Kickapoo Union School District, a brick four-room structure that provided a three-year high school.
From its beginning, the community welcomed diverse religious beliefs such as Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Roman Catholic. The Spring School House, a resident’s log cabin, and the second floor of a store building housed early services. However, as congregations fluctuated, formal houses of worship were built.
In 1902, the town’s name changed for the last time to the Village of Downs because postal clerks often confused Priceville with another Illinois town, Princeville. The new name was in honor of local influential farmer, Lawson Downs.