Considered the first true German settlement in Illinois, Germantown is a Clinton County community that has always been proud of its German heritage. It’s early name was Hanover, a nod to the German kingdom of Hanover from which many of the new residents had migrated.
When the first immigrants began arriving in 1814, the land was wild prairie—grass was said to have been taller than a horse—where large herds of deer ran and the possibilities seemed endless. Settlers continued to arrive and in 1837 they purchased 120 acres of land to establish the town. Soon there was a dry goods store, grocery, and boarding house. An impressive new church was to follow.
Standing tall in the landscape of town is the steeple of St. Boniface Church. The oldest church in Clinton County—the current structure was completed in 1854—St. Boniface was also the largest church in the state when it was built. Now its steeple rises above a town of more than 1100 people, a close-knit community that takes pride in its heritage. For the past 50 years they have celebrated that heritage at the annual Spassfest. The name is German for fun festival, and it truly is, with three days of celebration.
For those who would like to delve deeper into the town’s background and inhabitants, the Germantown Historical Society is a terrific resource. Lest We Forget: War Stories of Germantown, Veterans, a book written by Mary Jansen Parrent in conjunction with the organization and available on its website, recounts stories of veterans going back to the Black Hawk War of 1833.
With an elementary school, a wonderful public library, and a large park where baseball is played in the summer, Germantown embodies a homey American town. It’s one more great place to visit—or call home!—in Clinton County!