It was built hastily in the warm months of 1832 to provide safe haven from the threat of native Indians –Sac and Fox warriors led by Chief Black Hawk –and after a single Sunday afternoon’s fracas lasting forty-five minutes it was never used again.
So, of course, someone tore it down and used the lumber for a barn leaving it up to an archaeologist to rediscover the original site when folks in town decided that it was all historic which was obvious because folks had organized a Historic Foundation making it official.
They hired an archaeologist because nobody remembered where, exactly, the Fort was built.
Some said it was on a hillside to the north but nothing looked big enough for the fort they imagined, and others said it was right where downtown Elizabeth is today, and so everyone was surprised when the archaeologist said it was not quite where anyone said it was, and it was not quite as big as everyone said it must have been.
He found musket balls, a cellar and trash pit, and the footprint of the famous Apple River Fort, but it was only a fifty by seventy foot area and that disappointed the official Historic Foundation, but they did the best with what they had.