Here is the view towards Madonnaville.
The church, built by hand out of native stone. The parish dates from 1838, with the first church being built in 1844; the current church dates from 1855.
This parish was originally founded in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. The Diocese of Chicago was erected in 1843; from it the Diocese of Quincy in 1853; renamed the Diocese of Alton in 1857, and from it came the Diocese of Belleville in 1887.
The church was locked at the time of my visit; I haven't been inside in years, so I can't comment on the interior.
Saint Mary, over the door.
The former rectory, dating from 1861, is used for functions such as wakes after funerals.
The former school, also dating from 1861, is now a private residence.
There are or were no fewer than nine churches in what is now the Diocese of Belleville named Immaculate Conception. The very earliest missionaries to this area, when it was a part of the French Empire, dedicated themselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception. Father Jacques Marquette, exploring the area in the 17th century, even gave the nearby Mississippi River that name.
"Immaculate Conception, Madonnaville, Sun. Mass 10:30 am".
The back of the church.
The relative flatness and sparsity of trees in much of Illinois makes finding traditionally-designed churches fairly easy: just scan the horizon for steeples. This area is on the edge of the prairie, and approaches instead the more rugged region near the River. Caves, springs, and sinkholes are nearby.
A correspondent sent me the following links with historical information:
My correspondent adds:
"(The 1883 article is fairly accurate though there is one clarification that I would like to make: it states that "Madonnaville ... is the modern name for the ancient settlement of James Mills ..." Actually, it is Monroe City, located a mile or two down the bluff from Madonnaville, that was James' Mill, named for the James family. Thomas James donated 40 acres of the land up on the hill for the church. Source: "Arrowheads to Aerojets," Monroe County Historical Society, Klein, Helen Ragland, editor; published by Myron Roever Associates, Valmeyer, 1967, page 374."UPDATE. A correspondent writes:
The photos on the website are beautiful. But the identification of the two buildings near the church should be swapped. The school is the building with the cross on the roof above the door. The Rectory (Priests' residence) is the building just East of the church and is currently occupied by a family.
Click here for map.