Pekin renames Pocket Park after Nance Legins-Costley and her son Pvt. William

Continuing Coverage of Central Illinois’ ties to the original Juneteenth in 1865.
This is the new monument that highlights both Nance and her son now located in Pekin's downtown...
This is the new monument that highlights both Nance and her son now located in Pekin's downtown area.(week)
Published: Jun. 17, 2023 at 2:10 PM CDT
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PEKIN (25News Now) - A place that Nance Legins-Costley once called home before she was laid to rest in Peoria is now honoring her and her son Private William Costley.

Pekin’s Pocket Park is now renamed Legins-Costley Park.

There are now two Illinois state historical markers telling the story of both Nance and William.

As 25News has been reporting, Private William Costley served on the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War.

William was present at the original Juneteenth in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to announce to those enslaved that they were free and to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln two years prior.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lisa Holder White along with Peoria Mayor Rita Ali attended Saturday’s ceremony.

Justice White was the keynote speaker and spoke about the important role Nance played in Illinois’ history moving forward.

White recited the Cromwell vs. Bailey ruling which allowed Nance to be free. “In controlling her own motions could not be the subject of a sale and no right to her services would pass by such sale. The sale of a free person is illegal and that being the consideration of the note that is illegal also.”

Tazewell County Clerk, John Ackerman says, ”This provides a lasting marker a lasting tribute. She did live within our community. She was cherished within our community and appreciated. This is our way of showing she was a Pekinite, a citizen of Tazewell County, and someone we should be recognizing and remembering.”

Both of the Costley’s historical markers are up now and can be viewed.

The artwork was also on display by students at Pekin Community High School with their rendition of Nance’s life and legacy.