Illinois Genealogy Trails History Group

Clark County Illinois
Genealogy and History

at the Turn of the Century


From a letter printed in the Martinsville Planet, circa 1976,
by Jessie Gallatin Webster*, submitted by L. K. Ortman.

Dear Sirs,

I just want to thank you for sending me the back issues of the Planet. How I enjoyed all about the Bicentennial programs and all the news from years gone by. I surely enjoyed it very much and won t let my subscription elapse next year, providing I m still here. All about the County Fair brought back memories how we used to ride bikes that we would rent for .10 from an old fellow who rented skates and bicycles and we would go out and ride around the race track.  Those days there wasn t anything to occupy the kids minds. If they had had soft ball for women I would have been a whiz for I played baseball with the boys and people called me a tomboy but I had a cousin. She and I ran around together by the name of Fern Bloodworth who now lives in Wilmington, California. She had a pony and we had high spirited Kentucky walking horse and she and I rode them.  None of the rest of girls would ride. We had something then growing up that there that the young kids of today never had. Dad practically layed all the sidewalks (concrete) in Martinsvi1le.  When I was home 4 years ago those sidewalks were still good. I have scars on both knees where we used to slide down the banisters at the Southside School and after I got hurt my Dad removed those steps and those concrete Steps and iron railings in, that were still there 4 years ago and the school they tell me burned. 1 would love to come back and stay a month and visit and maybe I could write a book. 1 have a picture of one of my classes but do you know there isn t a name on the back it to tell me who the kids are. I just wonder if I sent it to you, you could publish It Maybe there some of the old timers my age could help me with the names. It s a real good plain picture and I believe it would make a good clear newspaper print.  I would be glad to pay for you running it.  I don t know the teacher s name. The women those days wore bustles on their hips and I  know somebody gave her the name Artificial Hips and I remember that. I remember Uncle Henry Randall s store on the corner, Millers Dry Goods and Grocery on the other corner, Devlin s Candy and fountain, Uncle Elizar Dill s1 Meat Market, Faisg s2 Drug, the water well with a dipper hung on it.  Everybody drank out of it and never thought about disease.   The two hotels going down to the train station, I can just see it but can t remember the names too well any more as time has a way of taking those things away from you. The only street I can remember is York and I don t remember it that is Main Street or the street going down to the railroad tracks and to the SouthsideSchool. I remember the old Nickelodeon, Dr. Phelps office and Clint Gallatin and his wife, Minnie lived in the corner house just across from the Randall Store. It was a beautiful home. I remember her coming to church every Sunday with a new hat on and she would wait until just as the service was a bout to start and in she would come and everybody looking to sec her with her big, full skirts.  She was the best dressed woman in Martinsville or at least she thought she was.  There were a lot of good looking women then as there are now. One thing the Bloodworth girls and I talked about in our letters is do you know why the hill over the railroads tracks was named Flowery Hill?   Do you know who gave it  that name?3  Does anyone know what the man s name was that used to have a flower garden just across the railroad tracks of the depot. I think his daughter is one of the girls in my picture I have of the class. He had a greenhouse and of course sold his flowers he grew. I hope someone can enlighten me. I don t know how many are still living my age. We came out here in February 1908 and my class graduated from high school that spring.  They sent me my diploma and my report card.  I have lost my diploma but still have my report card. Harry Ryan was our teacher and principle. He taught me how to write. Well, I guess I better quit for I could ask a dozen more questions. I forgot to tell you I am 82 years old, was born May 13, 1894.  I live alone, have two wonderful boys and daughters-in-law and they are real good to me. So if you can answer some of my questions I will surely appreciate it.

Mrs. Jessie M. (Gallatin) Webster
1400 N.E. Euclid
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73117

*Jessie N. Gallatin (1894-1978) was the daughter of George W. Gallatin and Minnie Doran. The family moved to Oklahoma around 1908 where she was married to Daniel N. Webster, a descendant of the Daniel and Noah Webster Family. [Jennie Doran Bair, Descendants of Andrew Hardway.]

1Eleazor Dill was married to Weona Doran, her Aunt.
2probably the O. E. Fasig drugstore, located on Main Street circa 1900.
3"It was called 'Floury Hill' because at one time there was a flour mill atop the hill and on a windy day that end of town was coated with a thin layer of flour. I have heard it called 'Flora Hill' as well. I guess over the years the name evolved and people forgot the original reason for the name. The mill was located on the hill where Washington & York Streets come together. [from Larry Wells]


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