As motorists make their daily commute down Route 16 through Shelby County in south central Illinois, nondescript scenery flashes past their car windows. The landscape is a maze of cornfields, small towns, and modest farms. When you pass through the small town of Tower Hill, nothing looks out of the ordinary, but if by chance you exit and turn off the main road and travel through the countryside following one of the many narrow roads in the region, one road leads you to a whole different world, a world that would be missed at 60 mph on your normal daily routine.
County Road 1100E will lead you to one of the strangest mystery spots in central Illinois: Williamsburg Hill. Williamsburg Hill is located in the south central part of Illinois, near the small community of Tower Hill. The cemetery is not hard to find, as it sits atop this hill, which stands 810 feet, making it the highest elevation in downstate Illinois.
At one time, the thriving village of Williamsburg (also called Cold Spring) sat on a ridge near the top of the hill. The village of Cold Spring was founded in 1839 by Dr. Thomas Williams and William Horsman. Several of the Horsman family members are buried on Williamsburg Hill both in Ridge Cemetery and on private property located on a farm on the other side of the hill. Cold Spring survived as a thriving village for some 40 years. At one time, the village housed a blacksmith shop, doctor’s office, two churches, and a saloon.
Today, very little remains of what was once Williamsburg/Cold Spring. The remnants of the village are covered by trees and underbrush and are hidden from view. A few families still live nearby, secluded from the hustle and bustle of the big city life. But do they live alone?