This modest metal sign welcomes visitors to the Jasper County community of Valeria, highlighting the railroad romance that led to its establishment. In the early 1860s, the William H. Johnson family left the South to escape the atmosphere and attitudes of the Civil War, and settled at the present-day site of Valeria. William’s son Nicholas and his sister Edna Valeria would play key roles in the birth of the village.
Edna fell in love with a young civil engineer named McBride, who worked for the Chicago and Great Western Railroad. She and her beau convinced her father to allow the tracks to cross the Johnson land. An agreement was reached based on the condition that the community’s depot would be known as Valeria. The couple ultimately married, though McBride left the railroad to become a dentist.
Brother Nicholas entered into a real estate venture, and his signature appears on the papers that officially platted the town in 1883 and on abstracts of present property owners in Valeria. Its population peaked at 96 in 1970; the community is now home to 57 residents.