By Bruce Carlson

As we settle into New Athens we have started to wander out and explore the surrounding area. To get to New Athens one most likely will drive through Freeburg on Route 13. Anytime we head out to Belleville or any of the surrounding towns, we have to go through Freeburg. The drive to Freeburg is a short 8-mile journey. It’s all highway driving so it’s only a few minutes away. The main road through town has everything we would need; groceries, hardware, and church. St. Agatha in New Athens is a mission church of St. Joseph in Freeburg.

Nestled in scenic St. Clair County, Illinois, Freeburg stands as a hidden gem, offering visitors and residents a captivating blend of historical charm and community spirit. Freeburg captures the essence of small-town America from its intriguing past to its bustling present. Join us as we delve into Freeburg’s captivating history, the warmth of its community, the thriving local businesses, its population, and the exciting summer events that make it a must-visit destination.

Freeburg’s Rich History:

With a history dating back to the early 19th century, Freeburg has deep roots that tell the story of its growth and development. Founded in 1836, the town witnessed the influx of German immigrants who played a pivotal role in shaping its cultural fabric. As you explore Freeburg’s streets, you’ll encounter historic buildings that testify to its rich past. Don’t miss the Freeburg Historical Museum, where artifacts and exhibits transport you back in time, offering a glimpse into the town’s heritage. This is what makes New Athens and Freeburg close communities.

In a sense, both communities have begun to feel like one community. I’m not sure why Freeburg is twice as large as New Athens. Both have German heritage and were started around the same time. Perhaps New Athens being a little farther away from St. Louis was a factor. Either way, both communities have been very welcoming.

The Close-Knit Community of Freeburg:

Freeburg thrives on the strength of its close-knit community, where neighbors are more than just acquaintances—they’re friends and family. The town exudes genuine warmth and hospitality that makes everyone feel at home. Freeburg’s residents take pride in their community and actively engage in numerous local organizations, clubs, and initiatives. From volunteer efforts to support local schools and charities to organizing events that bring everyone together, the sense of community is palpable in Freeburg. We have gone to St. Joseph several times and met people from Freeburg and New Athens.

Thriving Business Scene:

Despite its small-town charm, Freeburg boasts a vibrant business scene that caters to residents and visitors alike. The town is home to diverse local businesses, including charming boutiques, family-owned restaurants serving delicious cuisine, and specialized services catering to the community’s needs. By supporting these local enterprises, residents contribute to the town’s economic vitality, fostering a unique sense of pride and identity. Many of the restaurants in town have been recommended to us. We haven’t had time to visit them yet. However, we do plan on stopping in and checking them out. We’ll report on what we find in future posts.

Since New Athens doesn’t have a grocery store, the Country Mart is a key store for us. It’s not as big as Sams or Shuncks in Belleville or O’Fallon, but for most in-need items the quick run is worth the drive. The hardware store is my back-to-the-small hardware store in New Athens. There is a Lowes up the road in Belleville and Menards a little farther away, but for the small-dollar items, Freeburg is the place to go.

Freeburg’s Population:

Freeburg’s population has steadily grown, drawing in individuals and families seeking a close-knit community and a high quality of life. With a population of around 4400, Freeburg offers a welcoming environment where neighbors become friends and newcomers are embraced. The town’s demographics reflect a mix of generations, creating a dynamic and inclusive atmosphere that embraces diversity. Karen and I are becoming very comfortable with the people in our local area. People seem to be a little more laid back. There’s not the sense of caution we saw in North Aurora. I suppose it could be the influence of Chicago.

Exciting Summer Events:

As the summer sun blankets Freeburg, the town comes alive with a vibrant lineup of community events. From lively festivals celebrating local traditions to concerts in the park that serenade the summer evenings, Freeburg offers an array of activities to suit all interests. The annual Freeburg Homecoming Festival, August 18 – 19, has thrilling rides, live music, and mouth-watering food remaining a highlight. Additionally, residents and visitors can enjoy outdoor movie nights, farmers’ markets showcasing local produce, and various sports and recreational events that embody the spirit of summer.

I’m excited to see that Freeburg has a Homecoming Festival. New Athens just had their version of a Homecoming Festival. Karen and I worked one of the booths during the New Athens Homecoming Festival and we met a lot of new people and many of our neighbors. We are looking forward to the same opportunity for the Freeburg Homecoming Festival. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and be nice. Looking a little farther down the calendar, I see Freeburg has a Christmas parade on the first Sunday of December. That’s something to look forward to.


Freeburg, Illinois, beckons with its rich history, close-knit community, thriving businesses, and exciting summer events. It’s a place where the past intertwines with the present, creating a unique tapestry of experiences. Whether you’re strolling through historic streets, enjoying the warm hospitality of the locals, supporting local businesses, or immersing yourself in the summer festivities, Freeburg offers an idyllic escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Come and discover the hidden treasures of Freeburg, where history, community, and summer celebrations combine to create an unforgettable experience for all.

We hope you are enjoying these articles and are willing to continue to follow along as we move through the process of selling our house, buying a new house (to become our home), and the adventures of learning about life in southern Illinois, Bruce & Karen.