The History of Seatonville
By Mrs. Will Witherspoon

Taken From the 1937 Centennial Edition of the Bureau County Republican, Bureau County Illinois
Donated by Dawn Champley

Dawn writes "Attached is an article I have from the 1937 Cenntenial Edition of the Bureau County Republican. Several of my relatives are mentioned.. John Glover Sr. was married to my great grandmother Elizabeth Fletcher Vanes' sister Alice Fletcher. She later became Alice Cotton owner of the Cotton Hotel in Seatonville. James Cherry - The Fletcher family married into the James Cherry family. John Thomas Cherry son of James married Julia Smith the daughter of William Parker Smith and Ann Fletcher Smith (sister to my Elizabeth Fletcher Vanes). They are the same Parker and Ann Smith whose house burned in the article. The company store I sent a photo of is also mentined in the article.  The post office is mentioned, on my Champley side my grandfather's (Alex Champley) sister Mary Champley Floyd was postmistress for many years. James Fletcher the County clerk mentioned is son of Matthew Henry Fletcher (brother to my Elizabeth Fletcher Vanes). James' son Reo was a musician, he was member of a group called the Cadets. They played on many radio shows in the 1940s, and Reo wrote several published songs. Reo was a friend of Paul Harvey the radio announcer.


The History of Seatonville
By Mrs. Will Witherspoon

The village of Seatonville, always known as a mining town, had its first coal mine in 1878 owned by the Seaton Brothers and called the Nigger creek coal mine. Coal was hoisted by the use of a gin. This mine was purchased ten years later by the Chicago, Wilmington and Vermillion Coal Company who made it larger and it became the first third vein coal mine in Bureau county. Under the management of John Glover, St., who held this position for ten years. George Ramsey, better known as Taddy Ramsey, was the first engineer. After the death of Mr. Glover in 1885, a Mr. Dixon became manager, also a Mr. Baird. In the year 1889, James Cherry, Sr., who came to Seatonville from Braidwood, Ill., became the superintendent and held this position for several years. The Spring Valley Coal Company purchased the mine from the Chicago, Wilmington and Vermillion Coal Company in 1902 and operated same until the sinking and completion of the new mine in 1904. On Aug. 9, 1913, the mine was closed by the officials of the Spring Valley Coal Company.

The village has had several fires. In the year 1892, a block of business houses was completely destroyed, but rebuilt. In January, 1922, four buildings in the same block, the confectionery store and dwelling place of Mr. and Mrs. Parker Smith, a business building owned by Mr. and Mrs. James Smith, a saloon operated by Chiavaria & Barton, also a two-story building owned by the Knights of Pythias lodge where they held their meeting on the second floor and the Barto grocery store on the ground floor, were destroyed. On Feb. 13, 1927, the city hall and livery barn, formerly owned by D. G. Stewart were completely destroyed by fire.

Once a Mining Town

Seatonville was always known as one of the best mining towns in this locality. During the "boom" days the population was nearly 2,000 with more than 700 on the coal companies pay roll. The places of business consisted of several stores, the largest being the general merchandise company store, a meat market owned and operated by William Goering, Sr., for 40 years or more until his death in April 1930.

A Score of Saloons

Several drug stores, a state bank, hardware store, furniture store, lumber yard and at one time there were 21 saloons in operation. Two railroads, the "Three I" - Indiana, Illinois and Iowa railroad, built in 1898, which was purchased later by the New York Central and is still used, but not for passenger service. The Chicago & North Western was built at the time the mine was sunk but after the closing of the mine this was removed as was also the Chicago & North Western depot, which was located at the foot of the hill near the Nigger Creek bridge.

The first post office was called "Mach" but retained that name for only a short time because of the town being incorporated in July 1889. The name was changed to Seaton after the Seaton Brothers, because of them owning practically all the land upon which the village stands, but when it was discovered that there was another Seaton, in Illinois, the "ville" was added and has been called the Seatonville post office ever since.

James Fletcher's Old Home

The familiarly known Cotton hotel was built in 1889 and run under the management of Mrs. Thomas Cotton until her death in October, 1924. Mrs. Cotton was formerly Mrs. John Glover, Sr., whose husband was the first mine superintendent. She was the mother of John Glover, Jr., a resident of this place, also of Mrs. Earl Hock, who resides in Princeton. She was an aunt of the present county clerk (1937), James Fletcher, who worked in the mine here and at one time was post master. Mr. Fletcher was a resident here for many years, until he was elected as Bureau county clerk in 1910, when he and his family moved to Princton. He built the home in which Coroner A. A. Meyers now lives and which he purchased from Mr. Fletcher.

A Historic Tree

Three churches were built, namely, First Congregational church, west side of town; St. Gertrude's Catholic church, east side of town, and First Baptist (Colored) Church, south side of town, which burned down in February 1926. At one time the colored population was in the hundreds and this class of people worshipped regularly in their church. The majority of the colored population lived on the south side of town, known as "across the creek". One historical fact in regard to the large elm tree which now stands in the Congregational church yard is that a treaty of peace was signed under this tree by the whites and Indians for the deliverance of the Hall girls held captive by the Indians. When this property was given to the church it was specified in the deed that "this tree should not be cut down."

The population at the present time (1937) is less than 500. Due to the closing of the mine and there being no other employment here, many of the citizens moved to other places, buildings were torn down and moved way. Very few of the original dwellings and business places remain, only two grocery stores, Barto's and Querciagrossa's; four taverns, G. Sterling, Aug. Querciagrossa, Valentine Data and Mike Kairis; one blacksmith shop, owned and operated by John Paglia, and the Seatonville post office with Mrs. James Floyd as post mistress.

Two elevators were built. The Churchill White grain company was built shortly after the "Three I" railroad went through. This was dismantled and the lumber sold in 1910. The Farmer's Elevator, which at the present time is doing a thriving business was built in 1903 with the following men serving as managers: N. Gallagher, Ed Sleppe, Henry Bonges, J. H. Schumacher, A. A. Meyer and the present manager, Anthony J. Torri. A. A. Meyer, Bureau county coroner, held the office as manager from 1913 until 1927.

Popular German Band

"Lukan's Park" which is known all over Bureau county was purchased and made into this amusement park by Joseph Lukan in the early 90's (1890's). It is located in the northern part of town. In the early days many great celebrations were held at this park. The outstanding event was held of the Fourth of July. Being "horse and buggy days," the country people from miles around would come early in the morning and stay for the day. Horses were hitched in every available space. The row of maple trees running north and west of the park were planted by Mr. Lukan and these trees provided shade for the horses.

The Hollowayville German Band furnished music for all celebrations. Dances were held regularly. Mr. Lukan built a two-story residence on the grounds which his wife, Mrs. Emma Lukan and daughter, Marie, Mr. and Mrs. F. C. Abrahams and family occupy. The dancing pavilion was one of the best. Since the death of Mr. Lukan the management of the park has been carried on by Mrs. Lukan and members of her family.


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