Pecatonica, Illinois is a village in Winnebago County, Illinois, United States. It is part of the Rockford, Illinois Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 2,195 at the 2010 census, up from 1,997 at the 2000 census.
Civil War records from the state of Illinois include soldiers from Lysander, the area's common name before incorporation by rail speculators. The word Pecatonica is an anglicization of two Algonquian language words; Bekaa (or Pekaa in some dialects), which means slow and niba, which means water; forming the conjunction Bekaaniba or Slow Water. The Pecatonica River forms the village's northern border. The Chicago & North Western Railroad came through in 1853 from Chicago and continued to Freeport, Illinois. That sparked the town to be the center of commerce for western Winnebago County. The Village of Pecatonica was incorporated in 1869, built on territory rightfully owned by Indians and previously deeded to the Reed family by US President James K. Polk. An electric street car line known as the Rockford & Interurban ran from Rockford through Winnebago, Illinois and Pecatonica to Ridott, Illinois and on to Freeport until the line's eventual abandonment in 1973.
In Pecatonica, a small depot building remains standing near Skinner's Auto Body and Forget-Me-Not Floral, just off the 300 block of Main Street. For the portion of the rail line between Pecatonica and Winnebago, the line often parallels the Pecatonica River. This route has since been reclaimed as a nature trail known as the Prairie Path, and with the exception of small portions of private property near Winnebago (there are roads to avoid this portion) it is possible to walk or bike this route today. C.W. Knowlton opened his first bank here in 1882 and built a Queen Anne Victorian house on Main Street, on the hill overlooking the business district. It was restored by the Ed Smith Family from 1983 until the family moved out of the home.
Prior to rail traffic, this region of Northern Illinois received stagecoach traffic. A limestone house on Comly Road dates to this period, and there are permanent wagon wheel scars near a utility building for the 12 Mile Grove Cemetery, which is just hundreds of feet from the current corridor used by U.S. Route 20, a major east-west route through Northern Illinois. Further west, Route 20 parallels more roads which sometime bear the phrase "Stagecoach Trail". Another intriguing element of the past was found while connecting a house on 11th St. to utilities in the late 1980s. A wooden casket was found, buried very deep. It was believed that the person buried died of some disease presumed contagious, and thus the body was taken about a mile north from the current Route 20.
Pecatonica is the hometown of Hacks Auction, Northern Illinois premier auction house and J&J Tumbling and Trampoline which has produced several world class athletes, including 1988 Woman's Tumbling World Champion Megan Cunningham Gearhart (later a coach) and National Trampoline Team member Michael Devine.