Eric Janson's House
The original home was a simple salt box building that included the four windows you see to the northwest. The large porch and addition were added when it became an undertaker's funeral parlor. The house also faced the town square and was turned 90 degrees when the additions were made.
Backstory and Context
Eric Janson was born December 18, 1809 in Biskopskulla, Sweden, or Bishop Hill in English. His father was a poor man but through hard work acquired a farm in Osterunda Parish where Eric spent his youth. During his youth Eric suffered from terrible bouts of pain, rheumatoid arthritis. But his youth and vigor would not allow him to act as an invalid. One day while he was plowing in the field the pain so overwhelmed him that he fell to the ground, unconscious. When he awoke a voice inside him said, “It is writ that whatsoever ye shall ask ye shall receive; all things are possible to him that believeth. If ye shall ask anything in my name I shall do it, sayeth the Lord.” Eric Janson knew this was the voice of God speaking directly to him. Eric lifted himself from the dirt. On his knees he began to pray most fervently that he could overcome his lack of faith, he might be forgiven this, and that his health be restored to him. When he arose the pain was gone never to return. He threw himself into a deeper understanding of the bible and committed himself to a celebration of the Word.
He travelled the country side as a wheat flour salesman and preached to all who would listen. Some may have been mocking him with the title, but he wore it well… he became known as the Wheat Flour Messiah.
He became a leader in the Devotionalist movement, but was evicted from Sweden. His followers came here to create this Utopia on the Prairie. His life is worthy of an epic film.
Official Walking Tour Bishop Hill Illinois Guidebook to Buildings, 2010.
Wheat Flour Messiah, Eric Jansson of Bishop Hill by Paul Elmen Southern Illinois University Press 1997
History of Bishop Hill, A Story of Swedish Pioneers Collected and Compiled by Theo J. Anderson, self-published.
Brian "Fox" Ellis
Brian "Fox" Ellis