Camp Ellis

World War II brought forth a great national effort in the United States. The Village of Table Grove and the neighboring Village of Ipava along with the unincorporated hamlet of Bernadotte were to be significantly impacted by the national mobilization efforts to wage and win a war. The Lewistown Project, the early code name for Camp Ellis, began with the taking and vacating of 17,800 acres of land stretching eastward and northward of Table Grove to Ipava on the east and Bernadotte on the northeast. Construction of the camp commenced on September 17, 1942. On April 15, 1943 Camp Ellis was officially turned over to its first Commanding Officer, Colonel Basil D. Spalding won month ahead of schedule. The official dedication of Camp Ellis was held on July 14, 1943 with over 50,000 visitors in attendance. Pictured to the left is Illinois Governor Dwight H. Green delivering the dedicatory address. Notice the microphones of WMBD Radio of Peoria near the Governor's podium.

Camp Ellis was host to a number of training activities including medical, combat, quartermaster and engineering units. Pictured to the right is a bayonet training session underway. Also shown below to the left is a picture of a unit of the Engineer Corps working on constructing a pontoon bridge over Spoon River near Bernadotte.

 

Camp Ellis went nearly as quickly as it came to the area. In November of 1944, the training unit was officially terminated with remaining training activities being greatly reduced.

 

 

The area occupied by Camp Ellis returned to individual ownership in the 1950s and few signs of the Camp's existence remain. Portions of the rifle range, a couple POW barracks, water towers and part of the water processing plant near Bernadotte are all that remain. The impact of the Camp on the community was great. Table Grove and Ipava had made their contribution to the massive war effort of our nation in the Great War. The area east and northeast of Table Grove is still referred to by local byfolks as "the camp".

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