By Tara L. Cale

When Dr. Thomas Mottershaw left his last career in educational administration 14 years ago, he wasn’t quite sure what he would do to fill the time in his retirement years. After all, he had already written 22 books, has been singing professionally for over 60 years, and even worked as a special agent  photographer for the FBI at one time. He did know he wanted to use what he knows best – education.  Specifically, educating people about  American history – but he wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. He moved to a 14 acre plot of land just outside of the small town of Girard (about 15 miles south of Springfield on Route 4) and lived there many years before he decided what to do. It’s possible that the ghosts helped him with that decision. You see, Dr. Mottershaw’s home is built on old Indian burial grounds, which was determined by the artifacts found when he started planting a garden and various flower beds. Paranormal investigations have been conducted at the property to confirm a ghostly presence, but Dr. Mottershaw did not need that confirmation. “About every three months or so, right around 10 p.m., the ghosts will dance on my deck.  You can’t see them, but you can hear them,”?he explained. “One time they rearranged all of the deck furniture, and another time, they left a spearhead as a gift.” Whether their existence and acceptance of the good doctor living on their land had anything or not to do with Dr. Mottershaw’s inspiration is unknown, but what has transpired over the last four years is Dr. Mottershaw’s Ghostly Legends and Historical Villages.
Mottershaw has transformed 12 acres of  his property into a walk through history,  with replicas of old buildings, battlegrounds, campgrounds, war camps and even cemeteries. It’s an amazing, and highly accurate,  representation of four specific periods of American history- the American Revolution, Civil War, Old West and Lewis & Clark. The grounds are open for tours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., May through November. Tours are free, and take about 45 minutes. There is no need to call for reservations. If Dr. Mottershaw is not home, you are welcome to tour the villages on your own, just please make sure the doors to all buildings are closed when you exit. If he is home, you will have the pleasure of having a personal tour guide, which includes a free history lesson. “I invite school groups, scout troops, families and individuals alike to come and take a walk through history,”

Mottershaw said, “I’ve had about 1,500 tour so far.  Of course, I’m always adding to the villages, so if you have been here before, come again – there is something new.” Mottershaw has built everything by hand, which includes over 155,000 lbs of hand-mixed concrete, and is currently working on a lean-to to store his authentic Amish buggy. “The buggy and I?neither one is getting any younger and it’s hard on both of us to move it, so I am building a permanent shelter for her,” he laughed. Dr. Mottershaw’s Ghostly Legends and Historical Villages are located at 28502 Pleasantdale Road, Girard, IL.  There is no website, there is no Facebook page, there is only this unique clump of villages, hand built by a man that wants to educate people on American history, waiting for you to come and tour it. When you go to Mottershaw’s, because I know you will, you may have a little trouble finding it as we did, as it is not visible from the roadway. My tip is:  after turning onto Pleasant Dale Road, watch for an s-curve with two uniquely styled homes on the left – one is dome shaped – that will catch your attention. The driveway to Mottershaw’ss is the very next drive on the left coming out of that s-curve. Tour, listen, learn – and make sure to thank Dr. Mottershaw for sharing his time and knowledge to keep American history alive in our minds and memories.