Chaplin Creek Hedgerow Forge

Blacksmith Shop

Est. 1987

Chaplin Creek Historical



The blacksmith building was built sometime between 1900 – 1918 in Ashton, Illinois. It stood parallel to and behind Ron’s Food Market (behind the three story stone building) and faced an alley named Brown Avenue Rear. It measured 24 by 48 feet.

Frank Howard,  the first remembered smith in the building, may have built the shop.  Frank was born March 24, 1882 and died April 18, 1960.  Frank’s brother, Charles "Cuppy" Howard was the last blacksmith in Franklin Grove, Illinois.

In 1987, Roger R. Taylor asked Glen White if he would donate the building and remaining contents as it was the last known blacksmith shop in Lee County. It would be moved, restored and again become a working shop as part of the annual Summer Harvest Festival.

Glen agreed, and in the fall of 1987 the move began. Ray Voss, contractor from Ashton, was hired to clear the site and move the building. Pfoutz Electric of Franklin Grove trenched for the concrete wall footings. Jerry Wiliams of Ashton formed and poured the walls for the new foundation. Ray Voss and many area volunteers helped clean out the building, take it apart and move it in four sections. The building was moved to the Taylor farm at the south edge of Franklin Grove on Whitney Road. A new metal roof was put on and Ray Voss poured a concrete floor in part of the building. During the summer of 1988, the porch was added, the lumber coming from a barn donated by Lyle Warner of Ashton, Illinois.

At the suggestion of Roger Taylor, the Franklin Grove Area Historical Society started the Chaplin Creek Historical Site in the fall of 1988, on acreage of the Taylor Farm, the land being purchased by the Society. The blacksmith shop became the first building on the site. It stands at the top of the hill where the first Franklin Grove slaughterhouse stood. H. A. Lott, who owned the Franklin Grove butcher shop, built the slaughterhouse around 1880.

Incorporated in the blacksmith building is a period machine shop. Most of the items in the building were collected over a period of 20 years and donated by Roger Taylor.

Not enough praise can be given to contractor Ray Voss of Ashton for all his expert knowledge and abilities, and the care he took in moving and reassembling the building. This historic building stands today as a testament to those who care about preserving some of our past for future generations.

If you can provide additional information, pictures, articles, documents about the blacksmith ship, please contact the Franklin Grove Area Historical Society at Box, 20, Franklin Grove, Il 61031



William Stoudt has been the blacksmith at Chaplin Creek since 1982. He first saw blacksmithing while attending a Medieval Fair sponsored by the Society for Creative Anachronism. He then began to collect blacksmith tools and books on blacksmithing to develop his skills as a blacksmith.

Today besides general smithing, he specializes in plate armor an sword hilt making and conducts teaching sessions at SCA meetings. William has a B. S. degree in Biology from Northern Illinois Univeristy, and lives in Madison, Wisconsin.


Chris Hubbard has been with Chaplin Creek as a blacksmith since 1995. Chris is an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois where he lives. Besides blacksmithing, Chris’s interests include beekeeping, and blackpowder gunsmithing.


Don Asp is an active member of the FGAHS and is another resident blacksmith. In 1990, he attended a Blacksmithing School taught at Roger’s Anvil in Amana, Iowa. Don Lives in Franklin Grove, Illinois


A resident of Ashton, Illinois, Ray Voss has worked for 52 years as a contractor (74 years of age in 2000). Ray moved the blacksmith shop, saltbox house and school house to the Chaplin Creek site.


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