By Ken Wiltz
Historian of the WILZ / WILTZ family of
Black Partridge, Worth Township, Woodford County, IL.
Black Partridge was the area 5 miles west of Metamora later known as Lords, Lourds and Lourdes in Worth Township, Woodford County, IL. Black Partridge was the name of the area before Woodford became a county. At the start the area was in the County of Tazewell, until 1841. The area was named for the Potawatami Chief Black Partridge, whose village was located north of the area and was destroyed by the US Army.
At the time the people of the area (1881) wanted a post office they sent to the powers that be in the Post Office Department to have the name of their post office be "Black Partridge". The name was refused as there was a "Partridge Point" PO north of Metamora and that might cause confusion.
The name Lords was given when one person stated during the discussion for a different name "You three guys are the Lords around here why don't we call it Lords, Illinois" and the idea stuck and their post office was so named. Mail for the Lords PO came from Metamora. This PO was established in 1881 and its first postmaster was Frank Emser (one of the Lords), but Esmer was soon succeeded by Henry Theobald who served into the 1890's.
The Catholic Parish of St. Mary sold their old second school building for $50. and it was moved across the road from the church to a spot a little west of Peter Bauer's saloon. The building held a general store operated by Henry Theobald and housed the new post office. The Lords/Lourds/Lourdes Post Office ceased to exist in 1901 when Rural Mail Delivery was established in the area.
Catholic priests were the reasons for the change from Lords to Lourds and to finally Lourdes. Each thinking that there had been a mistake in the prior spelling, believing it was named after the town in France known for it miraculous cures at the grotto of the same place. Some short time after the name Lords was given a Father Eckert wrote in the church register that the name of the place was Lourds by adding the "u" to the name.
In the year 1921 a Franciscan pastor, Father Engelbert thinking those before him were spelling the name in error changed it Lourdes by adding an "e" to Lourds. Since then the area has been known as Lourdes as it became more or less official when a sign post placed on State Route 116 gave directions to "Lourdes".
Note from author:
My great grandfather the brick maker of Hickory Point is listed as an early settler, but his parents brought him to Black Partridge when he was only 8 years of age. My great great grandfather also Peter WILZ should have been shown as the settler who arrived in the year 1837. He purchased in 1838 40 acres of Section 13 of what became Worth Township which he farmed.
In "Living Stones, a History of the Metamora Mennonite Church", page 27. It states "The first post office was established on February 04, 1835 in the home of James Boys at Black Partridge, three miles north of the present Metamora." This is in error. The post office 3 miles north of Metamora was called "Partridge Point", and I do not think it ever was called Black Partridge.
My information is from the "History of St. Mary's Church, Lourdes, Illinois 1840-1955" by Fr. Gabriel Linfert, O.F.M., who quoted Joseph X. Schwenk, who was born in Worth Township in 1870. This is about the way the name of Lourdes came about. This history is an unpublished work although some of it was in the booklet "The Story of Our Parish" published in 1980 by St. Mary's of Lourdes celebrating 140 years of the building of the first Catholic Church of St. Raphael's of Black Partridge in 1840 of logs by the pioneers of the parish.
Most anyone who descended from early families who lived in the area of Black Partridge can tell you that it was named that and was called that for many years from the 1830's to the 1870's. It is shown on early maps. I have yet to see a map with the name of Partridge Point. It was just a post office in the house of James Boys.
Partridge Creek tributaries ran through the property of my great great grandparents in Section 13 of Worth Township, back in 1838. This before Woodford County or townships were established. Then it was part of Tazewell County. I do believe that this property location is now part of the Fon du Lac Park District area. It was the SW 1/4 of the NE 1/4 of Section 13 and at the time of the death of my great grandfather in 1880 it was inventoried as having a value of $250.00. I believe my great, great grandfather had paid $50. for it in 1838, or $1.25 per acre.
Historian for the WILZ / WILTZ family.