Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The Earliest Inhabitants of Wolf Ridge, Now Bunker Hill


Pictured: Artist Sketch of Wolf Ridge, Now Bunker Hill

Reprint of our December 6, 2012 blog posting at

Wolf Ridge to Bunker Hill

    If you had been one of these early settlers back in 1835-1836, the landscape would be very different.  You could stand at the top of the "hill" between what is now the flagpole and the Lincoln Statue, look in any direction and see nothing but wide open prairie.  There might have been two or three buildings in the town, but the only trees would be in the distance along the creeks.


Pictured: Artist Sketch of the Springs, the Indian Watering Place, now Millville

    The site of the town of Bunker Hill was once known to the early settlers of Macoupin County as "Wolf Ridge".  It was thus named because wolves lived in the area.  Some of their dens were located in the vicinity where the United Community Bank is today.

    The choice of the name, Bunker Hill, was due to the fact that there is a hill here somewhat like that upon which the famous battle of the Revolution was fought and because those who gave the name came from that area of Massachusetts.


Pictured: The Bunker Hill Historical Marker located at Mae Whitaker Park

    The earlier inhabitants of the present-day Bunker Hill were the Peoria, Kickapoo, and Winnebago Indians, who established an encampment near North Washington Street and West Morgan Street.  On their wandering north and south, they would stop here at a large spring in the Millville area.  With the advent of the white settlers, the Indians disappeared and they were last seen in the area in the year 1826.

    In May 2010, a Historical Marker was placed and dedicated at the entrance to the Mae Whitaker Park just North of town on Rt. 159.  The marker inscription reads:

Bunker Hill Indian Trail

    During the Historical period, the earliest inhabitants of the Present-day Community of Bunker Hill were the Peoria, Kickapoo, and Winnebago Indians who established an encampment near North Washington and West Morgan Streets.  Another Native American site was Northeast of Bunker Hill near the Millville School area.

    From Fort Russell in Madison County to the old watering place at the head of Paddock's Creek Northeast of town, the eighteen mile trail ran in a generally straight course through the prairie along the dividing ridge between the waters and timbers of Paddock's Creek on the East, and Indian Creek on the West.

    Native Americans on their Northern and Southern migrations were accustomed to stopping here near a large spring for water.  Soon after the territory opened to American settlement, the indigenous populations were forced across the Mississippi River.  The last Native American encampment in Bunker Hill was recorded in 1826, when five wigwams, which stood at the head of Wood River, were taken down and removed to a site further West. 

--Sponsored by the Bunker Hill Historical Society and the Illinois State Historical Society.

May 2010


...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 6, 2012, June 15, 2022.

Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "Bunker Hill History." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, p. 5. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society.

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