History of Coles County, Illinois
By Charles Edward Wilson
LOCATION, AREA AND BOUNDARIES OF INDIVIDUAL TOWNSHIPS--LOCAL CHARACTERISTICS AS TO STREAMS, SOIL, ETC.--EARLY SETTLERS AND FIRST EVENTS--PRIMITIVE CONDITIONS AND REMINISCENCES OF PIONEER LIFE--CITIES AND VILLAGES--SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES--LIBRARIES--SOCIAL AND SECRET ORGANIZATIONS --EARLY STATE ROADS AND MODES OF TRANSPORTATION--THE COMING OF THE RAILROAD--ELECTRIC LIGHTING, TELEGRAPHS AND TELEPHONES--MANUFACTURES AND OTHER INDUSTRIES--MERCANTILE AND BANKING ENTERPRISES--BUILDING AND LOAN ASSOCIATIONS--NEWSPAPERS--PUBLIC OFFICERS--POSTOFFICES AND FIRST POSTMASTERS--STATISTICS OF POPULATION, WEALTH, ETC.
In the following pages the individual history of Coles County townships is presented somewhat in detail and under separate headings. Besides description of local characteristics, location, area and boundaries of the several townships, it will be found to contain extended lists of early settlers and description of life in pioneer days; history of churches and schools; the growth of manufactures and other industries; the development which has followed the introduction of railroads and of electricity for purposes of lighting and communication; banks and other financial enterprises; newspaper and post office history; municipal organization and development-in other words, a general history of the county:
The town of Ashmore extends from the Embarras River to the Edgar County line east and west, and from East Oakland on the north to Hutton on the south. It contains approximately fifty land sections, or square miles.
The stream with the classical name of Pole Cat, flows from Edgar County across the southern half of the township to the Embarras, and smaller tributaries of the Embarras water the northern and western parts. The northeastern one-fourth of the township, with several sections in the central portion and a tract about Hitesville, were originally prairie, but a wide timber-belt bordered the Ambraw and extended far up the Pole Cat and its tributaries when the first settlers came.
Some one of those first comers there is said to have learned, near the banks of that stream, that a kind of cat lived in those parts which was "powerful" strong for its size, and the impression was so adherent and so lasting that he gave the stream the name it still bears.
Early Settlers and Villages.--The township was named from the village, which received its appellation from its founder, Hezekiah J. ASHMORE. Milton J. BARNES was its first representative on the County Board. As in other parts of the county, its early settlers were mainly from Kentucky and other parts of the South.
Besides those named in the general county history, as coming prior to 1840, there were several influential citizens who came in soon after that time, including Job W. BROWN, Coleman L. DUNCAN and others.
Pioneer Peter K. HONN was a preacher of the Christian denomination, and had a fund of stories illustrative of life in a primitive community. One of these related in the Le Baron History was substantially as follows:
Mr. HONN was called to perform a marriage ceremony at the house of one of the early settlers. Arriving at the cabin, he found the bride and groom waiting, dressed in the height of backwoods style. Two large, ungainly curs were mingling freely among the assembled guests, and after the ceremony all (including the dogs) gathered around the table, upon which was placed a sumptuous "wedding breakfast" of corn-pone, venison, wild honey, and such primitive dishes. During the repast some one dropped a bone to the waiting dogs, and immediately they clinched in a battle. They rolled under the table, growling and fighting, whereupon the fair bride jumped upon a chair and yelled at the top of her voice, "Sic 'em ! sic 'em ! sic 'em !" She evidently felt that the occasion called for some kind of lively "doin's", and was grateful to the dogs for furnishing the necessary excitement.
First Things.--The first school in the township is said to have been taught by a man named FOSTER, whose antecedents are at present unknown as well as the location of his school.
Rev. Isaac HILL is said to have preached the first sermon.
The first death there is thought to have been that of the child of Adam COX, which occurred about 1831, and for it was dug the first grave in the cemetery near by, which later became so thickly populated with old and young.
The first voting place was at Bachelorsville in "Pietown," and there also was the first postoffice.
The earliest village in Ashmore (and the second one platted in the county) was Hitesville. It was surveyed just two days less than a month prior to that of Oakland, on April 14, 1835, and was named for the owner of the land on which it was located, pioneer James HITE. It soon grew to be quite a village, with promise of becoming a town of considerable size. But, alas! the railroad passed it by in later years, and to-day a church is the only remnant of its former village life and promise.
The next plats for villages in the township (and the next in order also in the county) were those of Middleton, surveyed in July, 1836, and Liberty, surveyed in August of the same year. The first named was located upon land belonging to Christian SOUSELY and Christopher GROVE, about the middle of Section 35-13-10. Liberty was founded and named by G. M. ASHMORE, of Oakland, and was upon the west line, and at the junction of Sections 18 and 19-13-11. Both attempts, however, were failures. The people didn't buy the lots, and the lands upon which they were located have continued to yield their harvest of farm products, instead of becoming the centers of trade and commerce as their owners intended.
No further attempts were made to build towns in Ashmore until St. Omer was started, in 1852, on Section 24-13-10. It soon had the facilities then necessary for an infantile city, a postoffice, store, blacksmith shop, church, etc., but the railroad went by "on the other side," as in the case of Hitesville, and only the church had the vigor to withstand the slight of that modern power to build and destroy.
The first store at Ashmore was opened by John HOGUE. McALLISTER and ASHMORE, owners of a store, half a mile southwest on the main wagon road, at once moved into the village.
VAN DYKE & HOGUE put up the first dwelling, and William ENGLISH started a blacksmith shop. Some of the numerous family of WATERS also started a wagon shop at an early day, and J. A. BROWN built a mill. William BROWN became the first agent of the railroad. The first tavern was started by H. J. ASHMORE. The first Postmaster was James M. ASHMORE. The first school house, built in 1857-58, was used for both school and church purposes at the start. From these beginnings grew the present prosperous and vigorous little town and center of trade.
Business Enterprises.--About 1896 John G. HERMANN came from East St. Louis and built an elevator, with a mill, extensive corn-cribs, an oat-bin of large capacity and a warehouse 190 feet long, all of which were destroyed by fire in September, 1902. The warehouse contained about 200 tons of broom-corn. C. R. MITCHELL put up a new elevator in 1902 on the site of the one burned, and BARTLETT, KUHN & CO. erected one in 1900, then in 1904 tore it down and built a larger one in its place. Both these elevators are well equipped and running at this time.
The Corn Exchange Bank was started as a private bank in December, 1900, by John G. HERMANN. After one year he sold it to a company of Ashmore citizens consisting of G. A. BROWN, A. J. WATERS, W. S. HONN, S. A. WRIGHT, C. R. MITCHELL, W. S. CHILDRESS, R. V. GALBREATH, T. J. BULL, J. D. ROBERTS, E. E. BOYER and G. B. NAY. They organized and elected W. S. HONN President and S. A. WRIGHT Cashier. The present officers are the same, with the addition of E. R. HAWKINS, Assistant Cashier. The bank conducts a prosperous business and is an important addition to the village.
The Ashmore Building and Loan Association was organized in June, 1887, with H. B. ASHMORE as President and W. C. KIMBALL Secretary. Its first Directors were: G. A. BROWN, William HAWKINS, J. R. HOBART, M. T. SHOOT, Richard WATERS, George A. VAN DYKE, Dr. A. T. ROBERTSON and the President and Secretary just named. the Association has paid good profits and has helped build up the town. Its present officers are: Dr. A. T. ROBERTSON, President; C,C, WOODRUM, Secretary, and C.R. MITCHELL, Treasurer. The additional Directors are: Jacob ZIMMERMAN, Eli DUDLEY, R.V.GALBREATH, J. R. GUTHRIE, Job W. BROWN, T. L. REED, J. C. REED and S. A. WRIGHT.
The first attempt to start a newspaper in Ashmore was when William ROSS, in the early 'eighties, began publishing a small sheet, which was discontinued after a year or so of precarious existence. In 1886 Oscar J. RICKETTS, now connected with the Bureau of Public Printing at Washington, started the "Ashmore Republican," a weekly newspaper, which has continued until the present time. It has always been Republican in politics. RICKETTS sold to J. G. PEPPER, now in the Agricultural Department at Washington. PEPPER sold to H. H. WATERS and WATERS to the present proprietor, S. D. MAKEPEACE, in 1889.
Ashmore has now, besides the enterprises already named, three general stores, kept by A. J. WATERS, C. A. WRIGHT and E. G. POLLARD; Three groceries, by Carson CUTTER, ALLEMANG Brothers and R. V. GALBREATH & SONS, the latter also conducting a butcher shop; two restaurants, one stock of general hardware, stoves, lumber, etc., kept by G. A. BROWN & SON; a hotel, one milliner, two blacksmith shops, two barber shops, two active physicians (Drs. H. A KIMREY and P. O. CARRICO) and has a population of about six hundred.
Social Organizations.--Ashmore Lodge, No. 390, A. F. & A. M., was chartered October 8, 1863. Its charter members were: A. N. GRAHAM, W. P. FERRIS, Caleb REED, R. BOYER, Hamilton BENNETT, J. A. BROWN, M. W. BARNES, John CAMPBELL, O. D. HAWKINS, W. S. VAN METER and W. N. YOUNG. The records of the early meetings have not been preserved, but it is known that among its first officers were: A. N. GRAHAM, W. M.; W. P. FERRIS, S. W., and Caleb REED, J. W. The present officers are: Lincoln MOORE, W. M,: G. V. WRIGHT, S. W.: B. L. MOODY, J. W.: S. B. JONES, Treasurer and Jos. LANE, Secretary. The Lodge owns its hall (a brick building) and has money in the treasury. There are at present about sixty members.
I. O. O. F. Lodge, No. 792, in Ashmore, was organized October 24, 1890. Its first officers were: A. J. STEWARD, N. G.: G. M. KINCAID, V. G.: J. R. GUTTINE, R. S.: T. A. WALTER, Treasurer. Its present N> G> is J. T. WRIGHT. The Lodge has a membership of ninety-two, owns its lodge room (a brick building), is out of debt and has money in the treasury.
Omega District Court of Honor, No. 348, in the village of Ashmore, was organized May 14, 1897, with twenty charter members. Its first Chancellor was E. G. POLLARD and the present one is Sarah POLLARD. The present membership ti thirty-five, who simply pay their dues and keep in good standing, but have practically ceased to hold meetings.
The Modern Woodman Camp, No. 891, was organized in Ashmore Village on February 4, 1892, with twenty-four charter members. Its present membership has been increased to ninety-seven. Its first V. C. was J. E. DUDLEY, and the present one is W. R. COMSTOCK.
The Van Valkenburg Lodge, No. 267, K. of P., was organized in Ashmore in January, 1891, and after an early prosperity began to decline and at the end of about five years surrendered its charter.
A Good Templars Lodge was organized in 1869 and was maintained until about 1875, when it disbanded. Its first officers were: H. M. ASHMORE, W. C. T.; Mrs. J. ZIMMERMAN, M. V. T.; William HAWKINS, W. Sec'y.; Mrs. W. P. FERRIS, W. Treas. The last officers were: F. P. CAMPBELL, W. C. T.; Mrs. Dr. J. VAN DYKE, W. V. T.; J. C. COLSON, W. Sec'y.; R. B. BROWN. W. Treas.
The "Nonpareil Reading Circle," a ladies reading club, was organized in 1902 with nineteen members. The first officers were: Mrs. Kate SAGE, President; Miss Cinda WOODRUM, Vice-President; Miss Emily PARKER, Secretary; Miss Leone KING, Treasurer. The present officers are: Miss Sue BROWN, President; Mrs. D. P. BELDEN, Vice-President; Miss Blanche FORD, Secretary; Miss Lena BROWN, Treasurer. The Society continues in a flourishing condition.
Manufactures, Railroads, Etc.--The tile factory, started about 1878 by J. B. CARTER, is mentioned in the general county history. It was located about half a mile from the village and was operated until 1904, when it was town down. About 1888 . OGLE & CO. built another one, which is still in operation.
A railroad called the "Danville & Olney" (at first a narrow-gauge road) was built about 1878, across the southeast corner of the township. The road has a flag station for passengers on its lines in Section 16, and a postoffice was started there by Leonard HITE in 1898. The name of the station and postoffice is Hites. There is no store or other business enterprise there.
The railroad now constitutes a part of the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Line.
A postoffice was established in 1869, called McPherson, on the railroad in the north part of Section 4-12-10, about midway of the section east and west. It is believed that the postoffice called "Modrell's Point," started in 1849 by William J. KEIGLEY, was in Ashmore Township, as W. W. HOGE says that where James HALLECK now lives was in an early day called Modrell's Point, and a man named KEIGLEY lived there.
These, however, like most of the other early country post offices, have now been discontinued.
Churches.--The Methodist Episcopal Church in the village was started in the early 'thirties, west of the present village, by Rev. Joseph HENRY, a local preacher. Christopher SOUSELEY and wife, Matthew McLAIN and wife, James HUBANKS and wife and Robert and J. H. MODRELL and their wives were among its early members. This church and the Hebron Presbyterian Church had a union log building put up in the later 'thirties west of the village. In 1869 a frame building was erected in Ashmore, which became the permanent home of the church and where, through storm and sunshine, it has kept up its organization and its services continuously. Its present minister is Reverend DUNDASS.
An Ashmore United Brethren Church was organized some time prior to 1866, but the date cannot be ascertained. Rev. Samuel BUSSARD was, perhaps, the first preacher for this church. Sometime about 1866 the organization was discontinued and from that time until March 26, 1893, there was no regular church of that name in Ashmore village. On the date mentioned Rev. Z. H. BYARD organized the present U. B. Church and was its first pastor. Its first Board of Trustees were the pastor, William MINER and John BRADSTON. The present pastor is Rev. L. E. MILLER.
Hebron Presbyterian Church was organized as an Old School church on June 19, 1841, in a union log church building, located in Section 35-13-10, by a committee of Palestine Presbytery, consisting of Rev. Isaac BENNETT, Rev. James REASONER and Ruling Elders James BALCH and William COLLOM. It had a membership of about eighteen at the start, consisting of the BROOKS, MOFFETT and MITCHELL families, and James H. and Jane BOVELL and Samuel and Letitia HOGUE. Its first elders were Thomas C. MITCHELL and Robert BROOKS. Rev. Isaac BENNETT and Rev. John McDONALD were the first preachers.
About 1844 this organization built a frame church edifice near the southwest corner of Section 26-13-10 on two acres donated by Thomas HARDING. Rev. John STEELE preached there for several years and, later, such well known ministers as Revs. CAMERON, Robt. A. MITCHELL, James A. ALLISON, H. I. VENABLE and Nathaniel WILLIAMS. In 1867 a large frame building was erected in the village of Ashmore, and into that the church moved and there, for many years, Rev. Stephen J. BOVELL ministered to the congregation. The church still maintains its organization there, having at present eighty-five members. Rev. B. H. FIELDS is its present pastor.
Prairie Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church was the outgrowth of an organization of Methodists in the early 'thirties at the residence of pioneer "Uncle Jimmie" CLARK, in Section 13-13-10, where meetings were held in charge of the circuit rider until about 1850. Then a frame building was put up near the northwest corner of Section 17-13-14 west, and in that meetings were held with more or less regularity until about 1874, at which time the organization ceased to exist. The buildings was subsequently torn down, and the ground owned by the church was sold to B. F. CHILDRRESS. John KERANS and John MILBURN were among its early preachers.The Enon Missionary Baptist Church was organized February 22, 1868, at the Dudley School House, by Rev. R. M. JACKSON. Its first five members were Hamilton and Miranda BENNETT, James and Eliza ROUSE and H. C. T. NEWMAN. About 1875 the society built a nice brick building on the southeast quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 12-12-10, where it continues to exist, a flourishing church, with a membership of one hundred and thirty-five. Its present pastor is Rev. F. M. TATE.
The Providence Separate Baptist Church, located in the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 16-12-10, was organized in 1880 by Rev. Alexander BLACK, with ten members. It held services in the little brick school house until 1886, when a comfortable frame building was erected, in which regular services were held until the close of 1904. The church has about ninety communicants, and its last pastor was Rev. Mr. JARVIS.
New Hope United Brethren Church was organized in August, 1901, at the Lafferty School House, with a membership of sixty, by Rev. Z. H. BYARD, who was its first pastor. In 1903 they erected a good-sized frame church near the northwest corner of Section 4-12-10. The minister in charge of the church at present is Rev. L. E. MILLER, and the church now has about seventy members.
The Christian Church located at Hitesville was organized about 1835, and about the same time a Presbyterian Church was organized there by Rev. John STEELE. This latter organization put up a building which was done mainly at the expense of James HITE. As the church did not thrive, it was soon abandoned and the building converted into a dwelling.
The Christian Church, however, had more adherents there and, about 1840, erected a building and began to grow. An early Elder was Edward PINNELL, and C. L. DUNCAN, Aden WILEY and Nicholas WILEY were deacons. Edward PINNELL and Thomas HESS preached at first, and later came P. K. HONN and C. L. DUNCAN as ministers. The church had grown to a membership of 227 by 1856 and then the village began to decline and, although a new building was put up in 1865, the church had grown smaller and the decline continued until the building is now seldom occupied and no regular pastor has been there for some years.
A church, which probably in its day had as wide an influence as any in the township, was what was known as the New Salem Cumberland Presbyterian. A paper, dated May 30, 1842, was circulated and signed by thirty-eight residents of the central portion of what is now Ashmore Township, which read as follows:
"We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, being well pleased with the doctrines and discipline of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, do hereby agree to associate as members in the capacity of a society to be known by the name of the New Salem Society of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of the United States of America."
An organization was effected at the residence of pioneer William AUSTIN, who lived upon the site of the present village of Ashmore, and a school house near there was used as a meeting place. William AUSTIN, John MITCHELL and Alexander MONTGOMERY were the first elders. The records do not mention the names of its ministers until 1852, when, in speaking of a meeting held in April of that year, Revs. Isaac HILL, Robert HILL and John W. WOODS are mentioned as being present.
It is said that a log building was erected at what was known as the "Gum Spring," one mile south of the present village, where meetings were held until about 1857-58, when a frame building was erected at St. Omer and the Church moved to that place. This Gum Spring meeting house was put up by settlers of various beliefs and was open to all denominations.
At. St. Omer many successful meetings were held and the church for a time was very prosperous. In 1885, after a long period of quiescence, a revival occurred, and it appeared as though the society would take on a new lease of life, but it was not to be. The church continued in name but without activity until May 1, 1888, when the last elders who had been elected--viz.: J. W. BITNER, M. W. BARNES. and P. R. BARNES--resigned, as did also Deacons W. E. PRATHER and W. E. BARNES. At the same time all were again elected to the same offices, except that J. O. THOMAS was made Deacon in place of W. E. BARNES. From that date the name New Salem was abandoned and the church was known thereafter as the St. Omer Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Rev. L. D. HENDRICKS was employed as pastor, and the records from that time were kept up with regularity. In 1904 the building was repaired and put in good condition and the church seems active and prosperous. The present pastor is Rev. Jonathan WILLIAMS.
Schools.--The first regular public school in the village of Ashmore was taught in the frame building erected in the later 'fifties and used for both school and church purposes. In 1869 the present Ashmore school district was organized and there are six members of the School Board, two of whom are elected every three years. The first teacher in the new district was W. C. KIMBALL. There are now four teachers employed, those for the last term being W. P. FLAHERTY, Principal; Miss Lou LAFFERTY, Grammar grade; Miss Ethel MARLOWE, Intermediate grade, and Miss Carrie WEATHERLY, Junior grade. The district owns a commodious brick building of four rooms, erected in 1873, and has a school library. The present Board consists of R. V. GALBREATH, President; G. M. KINCAID, Clerk; E. G. POLLARD, A. N. HOGUE, J. C. COLSON and William PRATHER.
In the later 'thirties a hewed log school building was put up near the present St. Omer School, and in that James WIGGINS taught a subscription school, at $2.50 per quarter for each pupil. He was followed by Pleasant COMBS. Out of that grew the present public school known as St. Omer, No. 15. A frame building was erected there and used until it burned down about 1889-90, when the present brick structure was erected close to the northeast corner of Section 24-13-10. The teacher there for the last session was Miss Blanche FORD.
The Graham School (No. 19) has a frame building on the northwest part of the southeast quarter of Section 35-13-10, in which the last term was taught by C. M. HEINLINE.
The Miller School (No. 20) has a frame building, put up about 1892, in the northwest part of Section 33-13-10. The last teacher there was Finis GAMMILL.
Boneste School (No. 14) has a frame house in the southeast part of Section 23-13-10, in which Mrs. May FLAGERTY taught the last session.
Dudley School (No. 24) has a frame structure put up about 1880, in the northwest part of Section 12-12-10, and the last term there was taught by Miss Emma WILSON.
The Olmsted School (No. 23) has a frame building erected about 1880. It is located near the southeast corner of Section 11-12-10, and its last teacher was Alice L. JAMES.
The Little Brick School (No. 22) is located in the southeast part of the southwest quarter of Section 16-12-10.
About 1857 a very small brick school house was put up there, which later was made somewhat larger and served until 1894, when it was torn down and the present brick building erected in its place. This is one of the largest districts, in territory, in the the county. The last teacher was T. R. REED.
The Lafferty School (No. 21) has a frame building in the southeast corner of the northeast quarter of Section 4-12-10. Its last teacher was John WINKLEBLACK.
Greenwood School (No. 25) is in the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 8-12-14, and C. C. WOODRUM taught its last term.
The Childress School (No. 16) is near the northeast corner of Section 19-13-14, and has a good frame building. Its last term was taught by Carl LANE.
The Liberty School (No. 147) has a frame building near the southeast corner of Section 16-13-14, where the last term was taught by J. B. LANE.
The College School (No. 17) has a frame building near the northwest corner of Section 33-13-14. Its last session was taught by James E. NEAL.
About 1900 a tragedy occurred there which saddened the whole community. Some of the small boys were playing "Indian" and built a wigwam of fence rails, covered with long grass. The grass became dry and, while a number of children were inside, it caught fire by some means and many of them were badly burned. One of the boys died as the result of the injuries there received.
The territory comprising Charleston Township lies a little southeast of the center of the county, and is bounded on the north by Seven Hickory and Morgan Townships; on the east by the Embarras River; on the south by Pleasant Grove, and on the west by La Fayette. It contains a few sections more than the regular congressional township. The surface is generally undulating, with portions rather level except along the banks of the Embarras River, where it is broken and hilly. The Embarras River, Kickapoo, Riley and Cossell creeks and tributaries afford excellent drainage. The soil is of the very best quality, especially in the valleys and on the northern tier of sections, which are upon the eastern boundary of the Grand Prairie. There can be no better farming country anywhere.
Early Settlements.--The early history of Charleston Township, like that of Coles County in general,if properly written, would form a picture upon which the youth of to-day might gaze with profit, and turn to again and again for inspiration and strength to enable them to perform well the apparently less arduous duty devolving upon them. We say less arduous; but of that we are not so certain, for with increased facilities and increased privileges come increased responsibilities. The fierce competition in the business world of to-day calls for strong men. The struggle may not involve an equal expenditure of muscle; may not require as much exposure to heat and cold as confronted those early pioneers who felled the forests, drained the prairies and made possible the more comfortable life we now live. But the story of how well they did their work, if properly studied, should strengthen the nerve and serve as an incentive to patient effort and prove a source of stronger faith. If so studied there would be fewer failures, and certainly a less number of suicides; but we have not the space in which to draw that picture, much less the skill to paint it in words. Those early pioneers were grand old men and well deserve a place in our history. The names of settlers prior to the year 1840, and the references to those early settlements made in the general County History, must in the main suffice, as allusion to them all here would be largely a repetition.
One of the earliest permanent settlements in the township was what is still known as the "Doty Settlement." Seth H. BATES, who has made a transient stop in what is now the town of Charleston, then took up his permanent abode on the Kickapoo in La Fayette. The DOTYS went to La Fayette temporarily, and then later started the settlement referred to. Samuel DOTY early moved to Texas, and Levi and James died at their homes in that settlement, after living to an advanced age, leaving behind them numerous descendants who still reside among us. Levi lived to be nearly ninety -one years old. His grandson, C. R. DOTY, says that the removal from Crawford County here was made in a "home-made" wagon, the wheels of which consisted of sections of a large tree, into which holes were made for the axle.
The Le Baron History says that Enoch GLASSCO settled just north of Charleston in the fall of 1826. That statement has been disputed by some, who claim that he came two or three years later and settled west of town. Mr. GLASSCO's daughter, Mrs. Abner BROWN, says her father came to that vicinity about 1829-30, which is no doubt correct. James Y. BROWN undoubtedly settled north of town in (or about) 1831.
Some of the PARKER family, who had settled on the Ambraw River, took up land and moved to this township probably a little earlier. They settled northeast of Charleston in or near what is now Jacob ANDERSON's Addition, and some of the land north of the railroad still belongs to PARKER descendants. James RILEY started one of the earliest settlements in the west part of the township, and for him was named Riley Creek. The settlement was made permanent by his successor there, John VEACH. The COSSELLS were a little later in the west part of the township and for them Cossell Creek was named. Arick A. SUTHERLAND located very early upon the east side of the township where the OLIVERS later lived, and he helped clear the land which is the present business center of Charleston. He was the father of A. H. SUTHERLAND, now of Mattoon, and one of his daughters married Laban BURR, one of the early bachelor settlers of Ashmore Township, while another married John T. OLMSTED, a prominent early settle of the same town. The EASTINS were early settlers in the west part. John M. EASTIN was a man of considerable ability mentally, and if it had not been for an ineradicable disposition to gamble, he would have been a useful citizen and a leader in the community. He is said to have won and lost several fortunes before he died, well along in years, at Charleston.
So much for some of the first settlements. They were all in the timber, and there cabins were erected, fences built, land cleared, and other settlers came to the same neighborhood, and soon there were several growing settlements in the township.
First Events.--The first apple orchard is said to have been set out about 1830 by Benjamin PARKER. The first school house was built about a mile north of Charleston, perhaps about 1828 to 1830, and one John McCOMBS is named as the first teacher. No other information about him besides his name remains to us. Pioneer William COLLOM had a brother who was also an early teacher in the township. We have been unable to get any further information concerning him.
Pioneer Isaac ODELL, who was on his way to the Muddy Point neighborhood in 1830 to make his settlement there, had a son, George W., born while he was in the limits of this township, who is thought to have been the first white child born here.
Old settlers remember no earlier wedding the town than that of Dr. Aaron FERGUSON to a daughter of Charles MORTON, which was in the early 'thirties.
The first church building in the town was erected inside the village of Charleston, and will be spoken of in that connection. There are now four religious societies which assemble regularly for worship in houses of their own outside the limits of the city of Charleston. The Salem Methodist Episcopal Church, about four miles northwest of the city, was organized about 1857, by Conrad BURGNER, John W. REAT and others. It is a strong country congregation, and for many years held services in a neat frame building which it had erected, but in 1855 put up the present substantial brick building. Rev. Frank HARRY is now the pastor. A branch of the Baptist Church, known as "The Church of God," of "Winebrenarians," was organized in the home of John P. HALL, May 9, 1874, by Rev. George SANDS. In 1876, the society built a nice frame church on the corner of R. P. HACKETT"s farm on ground donated by him, about a mile east of the Charleston city limits. The Separate Baptists have a church located about three miles southeast of Charleston. it was organized in the early 'sixties. Rev. Murry STONE is pastor at this time. The "United Brethren in Christ" have a church about three miles southeast of the city. This society was organized about thirty-five years ago.
Stock Growing--Horticulture.--Charleston Township has kept pace with the rest of the county in the matter of improving the quality of its live stock. Richard STODDERT was probably the pioneer in bringing in imported draft horses. W. A. WHITTEMORE, in the seventies and eighties, kept several stallions of improved breeds, and later Mr. Andrew MOORE was a breeder of improved stock. Robert L. REAT, in the western part of the township, raised thoroughbred Hereford cattle for several years. John M. DOTY, son of the pioneer, Levi DOTY, has taken several premiums for fine cattle, hogs and sheep, not only at the county fairs, but at the State Fair also. R. A. ALEXANDER and S. M. SHEPARD started the breeding of Poland-China hogs upon a farm south of the city of Charleston in the early 'seventies, and for several years the firm of SHEPARD & ALEXANDER shipped the product of their breeding farm to every part of the United States, receiving often very high prices for especially superior specimens of that famous breed.
A fruit and plant nursery was started in the 'sixties in the southwest part of the city of Charleston, and carried on for several years through successive changes of ownership, which furnished the stock for many orchards in the county and vicinity.
Railroads.--Two trunk line railroads traverse the township--the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis, or "Big Four," extending from east to west, and the Toledo, St. Louis & Western, or "Clover Leaf," from northeast to southwest. The history of the first named road has been given in the general county history and the latter will be spoken of in connection with the city of Charleston.
Town Supervisors.--The first Supervisor of Charleston Township was Richard STODDERT, and the town has been represented since upon the County Board by the following members: Jacob K. DECKER, 1865; James A. CONNOLLY, 1866; C. C. STARKWEATHER, 1867; James R. CUNNINGHAM, 1868-70; E. B. BUCK, 1871-76; John MONROE, 1877; E. B. BUCK, 1888-89; W. R. PATTON, 1880-82; A. J. FRYER, 1883-84; J. K. RARDIN, 1885-86; Thomas STODDERT, 1888; H. H. FULLER, 1889; I. J. MONFORT, 1890-91; J. B. BRISCOE, 1892; Jas. H. McCLELLAND, 1894-96; J. K. RARDIN, 1897-99; T. T. SHOEMAKER, 1901-02; Robert WILTON, 1903-05.
THE CITY OF CHARLESTON
Charleston, the only city or village in the township, embraces within its corporate limits an area equal to three sections, being two miles long from east to west and one and one-half miles wide from north to south, although a considerable portion of this territory is still used as farm land. The original town (or village corporation) embraced the west half of the southwest quarter of Section 11-12-9 east, and on this tract is located the court house, public square and business district. It was originally surveyed by Thomas SCONCE, the first County Surveyor. It was re-surveyed in June, 1839, by Joseph FOWLER, and in this re-survey is noted the addition of Nathaniel PARKER, consisting of the east half of the southwest quarter of Section ten (10). Since that time there have been between fifty and seventy-five additions and sub-divisions. It was laid out by William BOWEN, of Vermilion County; Jesse ESSAREY, of Clark County, and Joshua BARBER, of Crawford County, who were appointed by the State Legislature for the purpose of establishing the seat of justice of the county. In naming the place they added the last syllable to Charles, making the name 'Charleston." This was done in honor of Charles MORTON, who had donated twenty acres for town purposes.
The first house within the corporate limits of Charleston was a log cabin built by William COLLOM, and this served the purpose of a tavern in those days, though it consisted of but one room. The first brick residence as put up by Col. H. R. NORFOLK. It was a two-story structure and stood on the northwest corner of Sixth and Van Buren streets. James WILEY was the contractor and superintended the construction. This building was torn down a few years ago to give place to a large stone-front brick building, which is occupied now in part as a steam laundry and in part by the Charleston Monument Company. Charles MORTON kept the first store in the village, and he was also the first postmaster, the postoffice being established in 1831. The second store was opened by BAKER & NORFOLK. In addition to these evidences of a future metropolis, Charleston had at this time a blacksmith shop, kept by OWENS & HARMON; a tan-yard, by David EASTON; later came a carding mill, by John KENNEDY; two shoe shops, by Albert COMPTON and a man named HANKS, respectively. Charles MORTON's horse-mill for grinding grain was in the village limits. Byrd MONROE built a steam flour-mill at an early date and ran it for a number of years, when it burned down. This was rebuilt, changed hands several times, again burned down and again rebuilt much larger, and later still further enlarged and again burned to the ground.
Coles County Court house.--Previous court houses having been mentioned fully in the county history, I will allude only to the present court house. This structure is one of the finest in the State outside of the city of Chicago. it is built of brown stone from the OLIVER quarries on the Embarras River. (The stone from these quarries was awarded the first premium, at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis, in 1904.) That used for trimming is known as the Bedford (Ind.) stone. The dimensions of the building are 132 by 128 feet. It is as nearly fire-proof as it is possible for such a building to be made. It is three stories in height, with a well lighted basement under the whole structure. The floors in the corridors are of tile, and those in court rooms and offices are of hardwood laid in concrete. The wainscoting in the corridors are of polished granite. It is steam-heated and wired for electric lighting throughout every apartment. Standing out by itself in the center of the public square, surrounded with a beautiful green lawn-and between this and the paved streets a nice concrete sidewalk-the whole presents a splendid appearance and attracts the attention of strangers who visit the city.
The jail and Sheriff's residence are distant about one block, and are connected by a tunnel. The heating plant for both these buildings and the court house is on the northeast corner of the lot on which the latter stands.
Manufactures.--Charleston cannot be said, at present, to be a manufacturing city, though, from time to time, it has done its full share in that line as compared with neighboring cities. The principal manufacturing establishment at present in the city is the MERKLE-WILEY Broom Company's plant for the wholesale manufacture of brooms. This establishment, owned principally by its present manager, Clifford WILEY, began its career with the firm name of WILEY & TRAVER in 1868, in the rear of their grocery, then located on the south side of the public square. This firm consisted of Leroy WILEY and R. A. TRAVER. The business passed from time to time into other hands and under other management, until finally the "Charleston Broom Company" was organized, when it passed into the hands of the present owners. This is a steam-power plant and furnishes its own heat, power and electric light. It has a capacity of four thousand brooms a day, and gives employment to from sixty to ninety people when running with full force. Its goods are sold throughout the Union. As Charleston is in the greatest broom-corn growing section of the country, this establishment will probably grow still more rapidly in importance and amount of its product in the future.
The tile factory, owned by S. H. RECORD, has been in operation for the past twenty-eight years, has always done a good business, and has furnished tile to drain out the rich prairie land to the north of the city. It has been recently equipped with new and improved machinery preparatory for an increased business.
A creamery and a canning factory were started a few years ago by the enterprise of the business men of the city, and, not proving as profitable as was hoped, has been discontinued and the buildings turned to other uses.
The pork-packing business in the early 'seventies reached large proportions, but years ago succumbed to the larger establishments at Chicago and other commercial centers. Plow manufactories arose and flourished for a time and followed in the same wake.
Charleston at one time had two of the largest and finest equipped flour-mills in Central Illinois, but the farmers of Coles and adjoining counties, having discovered that wheat growing was less profitable than that of other crops, ceased to furnish sufficient grain to enable the owners to carry on their business successfully. These have both ceased operations. The larger mill was burned down about 1885, and the other has more recently been dismantled and the machinery shipped to other points.
The woolen mills, so long conducted by Henry and Guenther WEISS and other proprietors, after being three times almost entirely destroyed by fire, ceased to be operated, and the buildings were afterwards put in repair for use as the mounting department for the Charleston Stove Works. The stove foundry started by William and Alexander BAIN, as early as 1857, was quite a successful venture and grew into extensive proportions. Both of the BAINS, are now dead. This establishment passed in the hands of a corporation, and was managed for about three years by Messrs. WILCOX, CRAIG, and WOODS, but was burned down in 1891. New brick buildings, well adapted for the purpose, were soon after erected, and the business again rapidly grew. The financial panic of 1893 caused the company to fail. The business was later resumed by J. W. RAMSEY, who prosecuted it successfully for a few years under the name of the "Charleston Foundry Company," but recently removed the machinery to Mattoon, where the business is still carried on under the same name.
The Charleston Monument Company was organized in 1893. It has a finely equipped plant, with its own power and the latest and most approved machinery for sawing, dressing and polishing marble and granite. The company ship their material in the rough and manufacture it from the start. They employ about twenty hands. The proprietors are Alexander BRIGGS and Robert WILTON.
Village and City Organization.--Charleston was organized as a village in 1853, Nathan ELLINGTON becoming the first President of the Village Board. In 1865 the town was incorporated as a city, with L. P. TOMLIN as its first Mayor, and the old Board of Trustees acting as Aldermen. The present city officers are: C.C. DIGBY, Mayor; -------JAMES, Clerk; Otis GOODMAN, Treasurer; Harry COFER, City Attorney, and Warren PIGG, Chief of Police. The city is divided into five wards, and the legislative department is vested in its ten aldermen, two from each ward.
The city owns its water works, which were built in 1875. The water is pumped from the Embarras River. This improvement involved an expenditure at the outset of $20,000, but the additions and repairs have probably doubled the first cost. The water-works, with a thoroughly equipped paid fire department, afford excellent fire protection. Two well trained horses and a competent driver are always in readiness to carry the hose and fire-ladders to any part of the city when needed.
Law and Medical Professions.--The lawyers of Charleston have always stood high in their profession. Usher F. LINDER, Thomas A. MARSHALL, O. B. FICKLIN and J. A. CONNOLLY, in the past, and H. A. NEAL, J. H. MARSHALL and F. K. DUNN, of the present, are named without disparagement to others, all of whom have filled responsible positions in the gift of their fellow citizens.
The medical profession has always been well represented. The earliest physicians have been named heretofore, and from about 1867 to 1872, Dr. H. R. ALLEN had a surgical institute here which brought the afflicted and deformed patients from all over the United States for treatment. Dr. Samuel VAN METER conducted an infirmary from about 1868 to 1880, which also brought here thousands of patients from abroad. The "Montgomery Sanitarium," located on the hill at 637 Division Street, south of the Town Branch, was opened in February, 1900, and is conducted under the proprietorship of Drs. J. T. MONTGOMERY and R. H. CRAIG.
Railroads.--Charleston, at the time of its change of organization from a village to a city, was still a very small place, but about this time the Terre Haute & Alton Railroad was finished as far west as Mattoon. The growth in wealth and commercial importance may be said to have had its commencement with that important event. Soon after this the enterprising citizens of the city began to see the importance of competition in railroad transportation, but this did not result in an actual move in that direction until 1871, when by a vote of the people the Supervisor was authorized to issue bonds in the amount of one hundred thousand dollars, the proceeds thereof to be used in the aid of the Tuscola, Charleston & Vincennes Railroad Company. These were issued in denominations of $1,000 each, and eight bonds were sold and consumed without accomplishing more than some grading northward, when it was concluded by the Charleston interest that a road to Danville would be more desirable, and operations ceased for a time. In the winter of 1879 and 1880, the agitation assumed a still more definite form. The Tuscola, Charleston & Vincennes Railroad Company had been kept alive, and although the remaining bonds had been burned by E. B. BUCK, then Supervisor of the township, the people resolved to reissue them. It became known to those most interested that a narrow-gauge railroad was being constructed southwestward from Toledo, Ohio, through Delphos, Ohio; Decatur, Bluffton and Marion, Indiana, and it was proposed eventually to go through Illinois to St. Louis, Mo. Meetings were therefore held, and Hon. James A. CONNOLLY and Eli WILEY were sent to Delphos and Toledo to confer with the promoters of this enterprise, and induce them to build by way of Charleston. Other meetings followed at which W. J. CRAIG, of Bluffton, Ind., the President of the new road, was present, and talked up the movement. The result was (R. PATTON having been elected Supervisor the following April) that new bonds were printed and signed by him, a construction company was formed, with James A. CONNOLLY President, Eli WILEY and James SKIDMORE Vice-Presidents, and R. S. HODGEN Secretary and Superintendent of Construction. Work was immediately commenced and a road was built during the summer as far north as Oakland. This was paid for with the proceeds of the $92,000 worth of bonds and the money of the construction company. This piece of road afterwards passed into the hands of the Toledo, St. Louis & Kansas City (now the Toledo St. Louis & Western) Railroad Company, and the work was pushed forward until it reached the Mississippi River. The road changed hands and underwent reorganization in 1885, soon after was reconstructed throughout its entire length as a standard gauge line. Other changes in ownership and management have since taken place. Charleston is a division center and has a repair shop giving employment to a large number of men. Both the "Big Four" (as the old Terre Haute & Alton is now called) and the "Clover Leaf," as the new road is familiarly named, have splendid station houses here with concrete platforms and paved streets surrounding them, making a very fine appearance, with every convenience for the accommodation of the traveling public. Since the building of the railroad through from Toledo, Ohio, to St. Louis, the shipment of grain, live stock and broom-corn has grown to vastly greater importance. Alexander RICHTER and G. B. GRIFFIN have each large grain elevators, and large broom-corn warehouses now border the side-tracks of these roads.
Electric Lighting, Railroads and Telephones.--In the spring of 1889 the City Council contracted with the Thompson-Houston Electric Company, of Chicago, to furnish lights to the streets of the city, and work was at once commenced in building a power-house, erecting poles, stretching wires and placing lamps in position. By October 17 of the same year, the light was turned on and forty arc-lights beamed out with all their brightness upon the streets that had hitherto been very dark during the night, except when the moon came to our aid. This plant passed into the possession of a joint stock company in 1891, and under the management of A. M. SEARLES, F. A. BROOKS and J. C. BROOKS, who pushed the business successfully and soon began giving day service, was not only furnishing light to the business houses and dwellings in all parts of the city, but was furnishing power for running machinery, the latter in 1895. In 1902 the company bought out the Charleston Gas Company's plant, which had been established a short time previous, and in the following year also bought the ice-plant which had been in operation for a number of years. The company has now substantial brick buildings for all three purposes, with a fine office building in close proximity, and is enjoying a prosperous business. They also furnish steam heat for many of the business houses and dwellings of the city. The present officers are N. ELSEY, President; G. C. CAMPBELL, Secretary and Treasurer, and E, C, JENKS, Manager. The corporation is styled the "Charleston Gas & Electric Company."
The Charleston Telephone & Electric Company, under the management of Frank BROOKS, commenced business in August, 1896. Its wires extended to every part of the city. It gives service both night and day, and is extensively used by all classes. The company is at the present time establishing a line through Hutton Township as far as Salisbury. The company owns it office building, which is centrally located. The long-distance lines have a central office in the same building, and there are also a number of other lines permeating the whole country, so that a large portion of the farmers of the county can transact business or converse with their friends in the city.
Mercantile and Financial.--Charleston being surrounded by a prosperous farming community, has always been a good field for the retail merchant in all departments of trade, and has many very fine business houses. In this respect it compares well with many larger cities.
The city has three strong and well managed banking houses. The first institution of this kind (and the first in the county) was established in 1853 by F. P. JAMES & Co., of Wall Street, New York, and did business under the name of "Farmers and Traders Bank." Thomas A. MARSHALL was made its cashier and manager. It issued circulating notes based on bonds of Virginia and Missouri. Mr. MARSHALL later bought out the New York parties and became President, with John W. TRUE Cashier, who was soon succeeded in that office by W. E. McCRORY. The bank suspended about 1860, as did the State banks generally. Depositors were all paid, Mr. MARSHALL and Mr. McCRORY. pledging some of their own property to accomplish that result. MARSHALL and McCRORY. then started a private bank, which continued a short time. During the Civil War the dry goods firm of WILSON Brothers and the firm of MORTON & CLEMENT accepted deposits and transacted, in a small way, a banking business.
The First National Bank of Charleston was organized and commenced doing business as early as January 19, 1865, with Charles MORTON as President, and has continued a prosperous institution ever since. In November, 1868, Thomas G. CHAMBERS, John MONROE, Robert PARCELS and Thomas B. TROWER, who had, for a year of so, been doing a banking business under the name of the Coles County Bank, purchased enough of the stock of the First National to give them a controlling interest. This practically made one bank instead of two, for Mr. CHAMBERS was at once made President and W. E. McCRORY, Cashier, and the Coles County Bank went out of business. The present officers are: W. E. McCRORY, President; William KENNY, Cashier; George HEISTAND, Assistant Cashier, and Thomas G. CHAMBERS, bookkeeper.
About 1868, or immediately after the Coles County Bank discontinued business, I. H. JOHNSTON, T. A. MARSHALL and J. W. TRUE organized the City Bank, a private bank, which did a good business and continued until the organization of the Second National Bank, when it transferred its business to the latter.
The second National Bank of Charleston was organized July 15, 1871, with a capital stock of one hundred thousand dollars. The first Board of Directors consisted of the following persons: Thomas A. MARSHALL, I. H. JOHNSTON, John W. TRUE, J. W. OGDEN, George W. PARKER, Samuel VAN METER, I. N. CRAIG, Thomas STODDERT, A. H. PREVO, William CHILTON, A. N. BAIN, H. H. ASHMORE and Richard ROBERTS. John W. TRUE was made President and Charles CLARY was chosen Cashier. This institution has done a prosperous business from the start and has added largely to its working capital. The present officers are: I. H. JOHNSTON, President; Felix JOHNSTON, Cashier; E. H. WILEY, Vice-President, and I. H. JOHNSTON, Jr., Teller and bookkeeper.
The Charleston State Bank was organized in June, 1892, with A. N. BAIN President and Lucian WHEATLEY Cashier. This institution, springing into life just on the eve of the wild financial panic of 1893, when so many financial institutions were forced to close their doors to depositors, kept right on growing stronger from year to year. It is now one of the strong financial institutions of the county. The present officers are: Lucian WHEATLEY, President; John GLASSCO, Cashier; Frank POPHAM, Assistant Cashier, and George DAVIS, bookkeeper.
Charleston has three flourishing building and loan associations. The first to organize was the Homestead Loan, which sprang into existence in December, 1882. It has matured seventeen series and has helped establish industries as well as furnish homes to working men. The present officers are: W. E. McCRORY, President; I. B. MITCHELL, Vice-President; A. W. SHERER, Secretary; F. K. DUNN, Treasurer.
The Coles County Building and Loan Association was organized in 1884. It has matured twenty-five series. The stockholders are carrying 4,300 shares. The present officers are G. B. GRIFFIN, President; H. H. FULLER, Vice-President; I. H. JOHNSTON, Jr., Treasurer, and C. L. LEE, Secretary.
The Columbian Loan Association was organized in November, 1892. It has present assets of $134, 378.52, and has matured seven series. The present officers are: A. R. ABBOTT, President; Alexander BRIGGS, Vice-President; John GLASSCO, Secretary, and Lucian WHEATLEY, Treasurer.
Newspapers.--The first newspaper which got a permanent foothold in Charleston was issued in 1840 by William HARR and William WORKMAN. HARR bought WORKMAN's interest a short time afterward and continued with the paper until a short time after President LINCOLN issued the Emancipation Proclamation, when he sold out to Eli CHITTENDEN, who changed its name to the "Charleston Plaindealer." For a short time during this period George HADING was associated with Mr. HARR. CHITTENDEN sold out after a short time to John S. THEAKER, who in turn sold to DUNBAR Brothers. Albert DUNBAR died in 1875, when his brother, Lucian, became sole proprietor. DUNBAR sold out in 1878 to M. A. McCONNELL & Co. The paper was again sold in 1888 to H. B. GLASSCO. "The Plaindealer," after a number of changes, passed into the hands of a joint stock company, was first merged with "The Scimitar," which was published for a short time by UHLER Brothers, and still later with the "Charleston Herald" in 1903, when the name was changed to "The Plaindealer-Herald." "The Plaindealer" has a finely equipped office, with a job department attached. The paper has been issued both daily and weekly for the past ten years. It is Republican in politics.
The present "Courier" also has a well equipped office and is issued both daily and weekly. Its history dates back to 1857, when its publication was begun by George HARDING under the name of the "Charleston Ledger." HARDING sold to John M. EASTIN in 1859. EASTIN sold out later on to McHenry BROOKS. BROOKS sold to SHOAFF & UNDERWOOD in 1867. The later proprietors changed the name from "The Ledger" to "The Courier." Several changes in the proprietorship have taken place since that time. Major MILLER, BUCK & UNDERWOOD, E. B. BUCK, DUNBAR & BROWN, DUNBAR & MASON, G. E. MASON, MASON & STRODE, C. D. STRODE, STRODE & LEE, and finally passing into the hands of C. L. LEE as sole proprietor, who has a well established business and a large patronage both as the publisher of a daily and weekly newspaper and job printer. "The Courier" is Democratic in politics.
"The Herald," which was successfully conducted for fifteen years under the management of John A. McCONNELL as a Republican newspaper, passed into the hands of a joint stock company, and was afterwards merged with "The Plaindealer" in May, 1903. "The Herald" was started by James K. RARDIN in 1880, under the name of the "Saturday Evening Herald." RARDIN sold to Joseph PERKINS in 1887, who sold out to J. A. McCONNELL in February, 1888.
"The Daily News," started March 12, 1892, by J. K. RARDIN and Joseph PERKINS, is a later venture, and is now owned and managed by J. K RARDIN, and has a distinctive character of its own. It is Democratic, though decidedly independent in tone, its publisher being entirely untrammeled by party leaders. The office is equipped with a Mergenthaler type-setting machine and a very good job outfit. Altogether, Charleston is well represented by its newspapers.
Schools and Libraries.--Charleston has always taken high rank as a patronizer of schools. The public schools of this city have done a good work in keeping alive this spirit. In the Le Baron History of 1879 the public school buildings were described as presenting a fine and imposing appearance at that time. These have all been replaced by very much larger and finer structures, and one has been added to the number. The Eastern School was erected in 1889, the Western two years later. On the night of December 23, 1898, the Central, or "College" Building, as it was called, was burned down. This was replaced by a very much larger and finer building at a cost of about $40,000. Two years previous to the burning of the Central building, by a vote of the people, an additional building was authorized, and the Southern was erected.
The enrollment for 1904 is as follows: Central School, 184; Eastern, 240; Western, 248; Southern, 96; High School, 134--total, 908. The present corps of teachers is composed as follows: Dewitt ELWOOD, Superintendent; Hattie H. DOWYER, Supervisor of drawing and music. High School, Central Building--Fred J. JEFFREY, Principal, Chemistry and Algebra; Helena A. MILLER, Grammar and Latin; Belle GILLESPIE, English; Grace KUMMER, Mathematics; W. H. CUNNINGHAM, History; Edward C. CONVERCE, Physics and Biology. Grades, Central Building--May PATTON, Principal;Orra E. NEAL, Jennie POPHAM, Ella MILES, Mrs. Sarah A. LEITCH. Eastern Building--Arthur LUMBRICK, Principal; Lola CLARK, Mary RITCHEY, Callie BARNES, Anna ROMANS, Katherine JENKINS. Western Building--Charles GORDON, Principal; Bessie SHAW, Eva HUFFMAN, Mabel WRIGHT, Ida BALTER, Savannah STORY. Southern Building--Charlotte LAFFERTY, Principal; Hattie WILSON and Ruth HALL.
Eastern Illinois Normal School.--The Legislature of Illinois made appropriations for the establishment of State Normal Schools, one in the northern part of the State and one in the east central, to be located as afterwards determined by the Trustees to be appointed by the Governor. The statute provided that the city or town securing the location of either of these schools had to donate forty acres of ground for that purpose. A further consideration was named. Other conditions being equal, it should go to the city contributing the greatest financial aid toward the erection of the necessary buildings. Several cities contested for the prize. Soon after the Legislature took action upon the subject, nearly every city within the limits of the district in which this school was to be established, commenced raising money and doing all else in their power to have the school come their way. Meetings were held in Charleston to awaken an interest in our people, and it was soon discovered that, if the city should not prove successful, it would not be the fault of its citizens. the forty-acre tract could be secured at several eligible points within the corporation limits or immediately adjoining. almost any necessary amount of money could easily enough be raised, but still the location was in doubt. It all depended upon the decision of the five Trustees--F. M. YOUNGBLOOD, of Carbondale; M. J. WALSH, of East St. Louis; A.J. BARR, of Bloomington; C. L. PLEASANTS, of El Paso; M. P. RICE, of Lewistown, and S. M. INGLIS, State Superintendent of Schools. After visits by these officers to the several cities, they finally met in September in Springfield to determine the question by vote. On the afternoon of September 7, 1895, the matter was ended by the selection of Charleston for the location. This was the signal for a general rejoicing in the city, and every tin horn and other machine for making a noise was brought in requisition and pandemonium reigned until a late hour that night.
After some delay the forty-acre lot just south of the central portion of the city was selected for the grounds and buildings. After considerable delay in securing plans and specifications for the building, a contract was entered into with ANGUS & GINDELE, of Chicago, for putting up the walls and enclosing them with a roof for $89,700. The main building is 330 feet from east to west, with a large assembly room extending southward from the center of the building. The Chicago firm failed before their contract was completed, and Alexander BRIGGS, of Charleston, was employed, bringing the work to a conclusion. the entire cost of the building, as it now stands, was $225,000. The grounds surrounding the building have been greatly beautified, having been nicely graded and set in blue grass, with smooth driveways and concrete walks interspersed with flower gardens extending almost all over the forty acres. In addition to these, a fine green house or conservatory has been built, which adds to the attractions of the naturally beautiful surroundings.
The first term of school was opened September 11, 1899, under the direction of the following Board of Trustees: L. P. WOLF, President; H.A. NEAL, Secretary; Hon. Alfred BAYLESS, Superintendent of Public Instruction (ex-officio); W. H. HAMLINE, W. L. KESTER and F. M. YOUNGBLOOD. The faculty was as follows: Livingston C. LORD, President, Physiology and School Management; W. M. EVANS, English; John Paul GOODE, History and Geography; Henry JOHNSON, Sociology and Political Economy; Louisa B. INGLIS, History; Otis W. CALDWELL, Biological Science; E. H. TAYLOR, Mathematics; Anna PIPER, Drawing; James Henry BROWNLEE, Reading; Luther E. BAIRD, Assistant in English; Francis G. BLAIR, Supervisor of Training Department; Frederick KOCH, Music; Ellen A. FORD, Latin and Grammar; Bertha L. HAMLIN, Critic Teacher in Grammar School; Edna T. COOK, Critic teacher in Grammar School; Alice B. CUNNINGHAM, Critic Teacher in Primary School; Charlotte May SLOCUM, Critic Teacher in Primary School.
The school has been growing in influence, as shown by the steady increase of the enrollment from year to year. The enrollment at the close of the first year was 397. At the close of 1903 it had grown to 709. The graduating class of 1900 numbered four. There were eleven graduates in 1901, thirteen in 1902, twenty-five in 1903 and twenty-six in 1904
The library occupies two spacious, well-lighted rooms in the southwest corner of the ground-floor of the building. The reading room contains the reference books and is supplied with a large number of periodicals, in which is found the best current thought in science, geography, history, sociology, general and educational literature.
The faculty is as follows: Livingston C. LORD, President; W. M. EVANS, Henry JOHNSON, Otis W. CALDWELL, E. H. TAYLOR, Anna PIPER, Francis G. BLAIR, Frederick KOCH, Ellen A. FORD, Katherine GILL, Thomas H. BRIGGS, Eva M. RUSSELL, Thomas L. HANKINDON, Caroline A. FORBES, Annie L. WALLER, Beatrice PICKETT, Albert B. CROWE, Alice L. PRATT, Charlotte KINGE, Edna J. COOK, Sadie HARMON, Clara M. SNELL, Charlotte M. SLOCUM. Miss WETMORE died December 30, 1903, and Prof. EVANS in December, 1904.
City and Rural Free Delivery.--City free delivery was established at the Charleston Postoffice November 15, 1898, and rural free delivery was started from this office October 1, 1900, and since then some four additional rural routes have been established to accommodate the country round about. The total pay roll of the Charleston office is nearly $15,000 per annum.
Charleston Public Library.--Several attempts have been made to maintain public libraries in Charleston dependent upon voluntary contributions and not supported by taxation. In each of these quite good libraries upon a small scale were secured, but experience has demonstrated that such libraries cannot be maintained unless supported by a regular income.
On June 11, 1896, an ordinance, was passed creating the Charleston Public Library, and Mayor NEAL appointed the following named persons Directors of said Library: Dr. J. T. MONTGOMERY, F. K. DUNN, W. M. BRIGGS, John VAN METER, Mrs. W. K. HIGHLAND, Mrs. Aline MOORE and Charles L. LEE. Three hundred dollars was appropriated in aid of the enterprise. In the spring of 1897, three hundred dollars more was appropriated, but the Board deemed it unwise to attempt to purchase books or employ a librarian until larger appropriations were made. The Council in 1898 omitted to make any appropriation, but on May 18, 1899, an ordinance was passed to annually levy the two-mil tax to support the public library and under this an appropriation of one thousand dollars was made, and Miss Ella GUINEY, John VAN METER and H.A. NEAL were appointed directors in place of Mrs. W. R. HIGHLAND, John VAN METER and Dr. J. T. MONTGOMERY, whose terms expired. Six hundred dollars was invested in books, and Mrs. Lizzie PURTILL was elected Librarian. The library was opened to the public, November 4, 1899.
On October 30, 1901, the news came that Andrew CARNEGIE would donate $15,000 toward the erection of a suitable library building, on the usual conditions for such donations. These terms were accepted, grounds were purchased, a fine stone building was erected, furniture provided, and on January 15, 1904, the new building was thrown open to the public.
Church History.--The first religious services held in Charleston were by the Primitive Baptists. they pre-empted the field, and for a while outnumbered all other denominations. They had a church and were served; as pastors and preachers, by the PARKERS and Rev. Richard NEWPORT. They have had no church for many years, and the old adherents of that particular denomination are about all deceased.
A society of the Old School Presbyterians was organized in Charleston, June 13, 1835, by Rev. John MCDONALD and John MONTGOMERY with thirteen members. Rev. John MCDONALD served as pastor until 1843. The society has grown steadily until the present time. Rev. C. L. OVERSTREET, the present pastor, reports four hundred and forty-five communicants. The first church edifice was commenced in 1842 and finished in 1845. This was a frame structure and cost $1,000. The present building was commenced in 1857 and finished in the following summer. It is a substantial brick building and cost originally $9,000. Additions and improvements at various times have been made, and the building as it now stands could not be erected and finished in present style at double the original cost. The Sunday School and Young Peoples Christian Endeavor Society, connected with the church, are both strong and flourishing.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1837. Mrs. Parthena LIGHTFOOT and James Y. BROWN were among the first Methodists in the village. They united with the remnant of a society which had been organized east of the new village and gave a start to the present Methodist Church of Charleston. The first house of worship was erected on the corner of Tenth and Van Buren Streets. It was a frame structure but very frail. After having been used two years it was torn down to give place for a more permanent building. In 1857 the congregation had grown to such an extent that a still more commodious building became a necessity, and a large two-story brick building was erected on the corner of Monroe and Ninth streets. The lot was donated for this purpose by Dr. and Mrs. TROWER. This served the purpose of the congregation until the spring of 1895, when it, in turn, was torn down and in its stead a fine, large stone building was erected at a cost of twenty-five thousand dollars. The dedication services took place on December 22 of the same year, conducted by Bishop JOICE. The building is well arranged for large audiences on special occasions, as the partition separating the main audience room and Sunday School apartment can be removed and the whole made to appear as one room. The membership has reached five hundred and fifty. Rev. Theodore KEMP is the present pastor.
The Christian Church, though a very strong organization, was not organized until 1842, when this was done through the labors of Elder Samuel PEPPERS. The first house of worship was a brick structure built in 1846-47. This was sold a few years later to the Catholic congregation, and a larger building was erected on the corner of Sixth and Van Buren streets. This in turn was sold to the Episcopal Church in 1895, when, under the leadership of Rev. J. W. VAWTER, the congregation began the erection of their present very fine stone edifice on the corner of Jackson and Fifth streets. The walls are built of brown sandstone from the OLIVER quarries on the banks of the Embarras River, and trimmed with a white stone from the Bedford (Ind.) quarries. The church today, under the leadership of the present pastor, Rev. W. F. SHAW, reports a membership of eight hundred.
The Missionary Baptists have a good organization and a very neat frame church on the corner of Monroe and Fourth streets. The first church was erected here about 1859. The congregation is without a pastor at the present time, though it has been served by a number of able ministers, the last of whom was Rev. C. E. LARUE. The Sunday School is maintained regularly and is doing a good work.
The Universalists organized here in 1868 under the leadership of a Rev. Mr. CURRY, and built a nice brick church in 1870. The society grew for a time, but death and removals so reduced their numbers that, in 1884, they ceased to hold religious services in their building, which has since been put to other uses.
Through the labors of four young women, known as the "Pentecost Band," a religious organization was formed here in 1889 and 1890, which resulted in the building of a small frame church at the junction of Madison, Third and State streets. This was dedicated to the worship of God by the Free Methodists. The organization is still kept up, though it has not gained much in numbers in recent years.
The South Charleston Christian Church has a small congregation and a small frame building of their own in the southwest quarter of the city, in which services are held regularly, though they do not maintain a regular pastorate.
The history of the St. Charles Catholic Church of Charleston dates back to the year 1854, when Rev. Thomas RYAN, then of North Arm, Edgar County, ministered to the spiritual wants of the Catholics of Charleston. Rev. Dennis TIERNEY became the first resident rector in 1865. About that time the congregation purchased an edifice, which had been in use by the Christian Church. This was destroyed by a severe storm in 1868. Another building was erected on the same lot and dedicated by Bishop BALTIS in 1872. A fine brick church was erected in 1898 on the northeast corner of the same block, which was dedicated on October 19 of the same year by Bishop RYAN. In the spring of 1900 the old parsonage was moved and a commodious two-story pressed brick building, with slate roof and all modern conveniences, took its place. The old church was remodeled and converted into a neat hall. The new church and parsonage, occupying nearly one-half block on Tenth street, between Madison and Jefferson streets, is as fine a church property as there is in the city. Rev. William COSTELLO is the present pastor.
The Episcopal Church has had a few adherents in Charleston from an early date, and occasionally they have had religious services in private houses and public halls, but they had no church edifice of their own until 1896, when they purchased the brick building on Sixth street which was vacated by the Christian congregation. Since then they have met regularly on alternate Sundays for the purpose of divine worship. Rev. Dr. Andrew GRAY is their present pastor.
The Cumberland Presbyterians have had organizations in different parts of Coles County for a great many years, but not until recent years have they gained any strength in Charleston. Since the opening of the Eastern Illinois Normal, several families have moved into the city and they son began to think of arranging a society of their own. By the courtesy of the missionary Baptist congregation, meetings were held in their building, and shortly after an organization was formed and a pastor, Rev. Mr. FERGUSON, was called. since then they have been holding services regularly in the County Court room in the Court House, but their new church, a very fine pressed brick structure on the corner of Harrison and Seventh streets, will soon be ready for occupancy. Rev. Samuel TAYLOR is the present pastor.
Secret Orders and Benevolent Societies.--Charleston has a very large number of brotherhood organizations, benevolent and social. A full history of these would fill a large volume. The first to organize was the Free Masons. Charleston Lodge, No. 35, was organized October 9, 1845. The charter members were William D. GAGE, Edmond ROACH, Adam MITCHELL, Green G. GUTHRIE, Thomas C. MOORE, James WATSON and Jacob LINDER, of whom William D. GAGE was Worshipful Master; Edmond ROACH Senior Warden, and Adam MITCHELL Junior Warden. The present officers are: F. G. HUTCHASON, Worshipful Master; R. A. MITCHELL, Senior Warden; Frank MEALEY, Junior Warden; George STEIGMAN, Treasurer, and J. B. STONE, Secretary. They own their lodge rooms, which are furnished in the very best style.
Keystone Chapter, No. 54, Royal Arch Masons, was organized August 4, 1859, by virtue of a dispensation issued by the Excellent Grand High Priest of the State. The first officers were: H. P. H. BROMWELL, High Priest; G. W. TEEL, King, and N. W. CHAPMAN, Scribe. the present officers are: T.T. SHOEMAKER, High Priest; George ROSEBRAUGH, King; F. G. HODSON, Scribe; Henry H. FULLER, Treasurer; John FAVORITE, Secretary.
Kickapoo Lodge, I. O. O. F., was organized October 7, 1851, by Grand Master H. S. RUCKER, the charter members being B. M. HUTCHASON, Elijah C. BANKS, A. D. WALKER, D. D. GALES and A. M. HENRY, of whom B. M. HUTCHASON was Noble Grand and E. G. BANKS Vice Grand. The present officers are: W. E. DAWSON, N. G.; Ezra MOCK, V. G.; Frank MOFFETT, Corresponding Secretary; Andrew BURKE, F. S.; J. K. KERN, Treasurer.
Charleston Lodge, No. 609, was organized March 8, 1876, by Grand Master John H. OBERLY. Ten members were embraced in the charter, and Dr. DENMAN, of Kickapoo Lodge, was appointed Special Deputy by the Grand Master and installed the new lodge. The present officers are: J. U. FERBRACHE, N. G.; Mike MILLER, Vice Grand; C. O. TUCKER, Corresponding Secretary; A. C. BAGLEY, Financial Secretary; P. W. GROVE, Treasurer.
Both of these lodges own their buildings and furniture and are strong in membership.
The Tribe of Ben Hur was organized on June 14, 1896, and started with twenty members. They now number one hundred and seventy. The present officers are: Post Chief, Mrs. George DANIELS; Chief, C. C. DIGBY; Judge, Mrs. E. S. BROWN; Teacher, Mrs. Emma JOHNSON; Scribe, Loren DIGBY; Guide, Ed BURKET; Inside Guard, E. GILMAN; Outside Guard, Mrs. George WAIBLE; Keeper of Tribute, Ed BURKET.
The Syracuse Lodge, No. 140, Knights of Pythias, was organized November 11, 1889. The present officers are: Chancellor Commander, A. C. SHRIVER; Vice Chancellor, G. W. PENNING TON; Prelate, M. P. HOUSE; Master of Arms, John A. HALL; K. of R. and S., C. W. ROBERTS; M. of F., Clare BROOKS; M. of E., W. O. GLASSCO. The officers of the uniform Rank, No. 52, Second Regiment, are: Captain, G. W. GRAY; First Lieutenant, Frank RICKETTS; Second Lieutenant, Arthur SHRIVER. Both lodges have a strong and growing membership.
Charleston Post, No. 271, Department of Illinois, Grand Army of the Republic, was chartered June 9, 1883, with A. C. MITCHELL as Commander and J. H. MCCLELLAND, Adjutant. The present officers are: Moses SANDERS, Commander; A. C. MITCHELL, Senior Vice Commander; R. P. HACKETT, Junior Vice Commander; J. H. MCCLELLAND, Adjutant; John W. REYNOLDS, Quartermaster. There are one hundred members in good standing.
There have been three attempts at organizing a Young Men's Christian Association in Charleston, but each resulted in failure prior to that of 1902, when a strong association was formed. This started with over one hundred active members. M. SIVERS was chosen Secretary, and under his leadership the association, starting April 14, 1902, was enabled to provide large and thoroughly well equipped rooms, which were dedicated on the 1st of October following. Their present efficient Secretary is George COTTINGHAM, and their number one hundred and forty-five.
Charleston Lodge, No. 623, B. P. O. Elks, was organized October 22, 1900, with the following officers: E. R., J. W. KENNY; E. Leading Kt., J. B. STONE; E.Loyal Kt., R. R. MITCHELL; E. Lecturing Kt., C. W. KEMP; Sec., A. W. SHERA; Treasurer, I. H. JOHNSTON, Jr.; Esquire, Frank JOHNSTON; Tyler, C. E. WILLIAMS; Chaplain, Henly ANDERSON; Inside Guard, W. H. MCCARTY. There were seventy-three members at the start. The present officers are: E. Leading Kt., W. K. SHOEMAKER; E. Loyal Kt., D. C. MCCARTY; E. Lecturing Kt., B. F. MCCLARA; Secretary, Charles EDMAN; Treasurer, G. H. DOVIE; Esquire, Walter MOORE; Tyler, J. W. SUBLET; Chaplain, G. J. HIBBARD; Inner Guard, W. H. DOWLING.
A Broommakers Union was organized in 1900 with harry CROWDER President, and eight charter members. There are twelve members at the present time. Frank Avery is President and C. E. STOTTS Secretary.
The Charleston Carpenters and Joiners Union was organized June 19, 1901, with ten charter members. The lodge now numbers fifty.
The local Printers Union was organized in 1903 with eight charter members and, with fluctuation in numbers, remains the same today.
The local lodge National Stationary Engineers was organized in 1891, with seven members and George WESTMIRE President. they number now nine members.
A lodge of the American Federation of Labor was organized in Charleston in June, 1889. Jackson WALKER, John SHONARD, Ben MATTHEWMAN, Joseph DAVIS and John DAVIS were charter members. There are forty members in good standing now. The present officers are: Ben MATTHEWMAN, President; John DOTY, Corresponding Secretary, and Jackson WALKER, District Organizer.
A lodge of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers was organized in Charleston on March 26, 1884, commencing with seven members. It has grown in numbers since then until it now numbers fifty-six. Besides its social and protective features, it is also a life insurance institution, and every member is compelled to take out a life policy. The present officers are: George DANIELS, Chief Engineer, and D. A. DOUGHERTY, Secretary. Fred SCHULER is Insurance agent.
The Clover Leaf Lodge, No. 469, of Railroad Trainmen, was organized January 2, 1889, with fourteen charter members. It has grown until it now has seventy-five members. The resent officers are: J.B. CALLAHAN, Master; J. G. GROSS, Financier; J. M. LEMMONS, Secretary.
The Little Giant Lodge, No. 187, was organized in Charleston in 1883, with a small membership. It now numbers forty-eight in 1905. The following are the present officers: T. J. MARTIN, Master; E. E. ROSEBRAUGH, V.M.; J. H. MASON, Secretary and Treasurer; Leroy ANDERSON, collector; E. E. MARTIN, Chaplain.
The local Lodge of the Modern Woodmen of America was instituted in March, 1887, with A. T. STEEL, principal officer and Joseph MCCRORY Clerk, and seventeen charter members. The present membership numbers 280.
The Knights of honor have had a organization in Charleston since 1879, but they have been very greatly reduced by death and removals within the last few years.
Charleston Eyrie of Eagles, No. 784, was instituted in June, 1904, with a list of 102 charter members. In January 1905, they reported 132 members in good standing.
In addition to the foregoing list of secret societies, Charleston has a number of auxiliaries, such as the Golden Star, the Rebekahs, the Women's Relief Corps, etc. there are also a number of Reading Circles, so that the township and city have progressed in the social and intellectual world as well as the financial.
Population.--A work called "Illinois in 1837" gave the population of Charleston at that time as 200. The population in 1880, the year the second railroad was built, was 2, 867; in 1890, 4,135; in 1900, 5,445, and a very conservative estimate for the present year (1905) would make it over 6,000. This is not rapid growth, but it is substantial and healthy in character. The growth in wealth and culture of its people, as well as the style and architecture of its buildings, both public and private, have kept pace with that of population.
EAST OAKLAND TOWNSHIP.
The town of East Oakland is in the northeast corner of Coles County, bounded on the north and east by Douglas and Edgar Counties, on the south by Ashmore Township and the west line is the Embarras River. The town was named for the village, and "East" was prefixed to the name Oakland because some geographer present said there was an Oakland Township in some other county to the west of us.
It embraces a larger area than a congressional township, being seven miles in length from north to south and varies from six to seven miles in width from east to west.
The jog in the county line made by the town of East Oakland, extending two miles further north than the remainder of the county, was caused by the determination of the part of Oakland, at the time Douglas County was set off from Coles. It was then that the village would eventually become an important place.
The town is well watered and drained by the natural water courses--Hoge's Branch in the north part (named for Samuel HOGE, a pioneer who first settled on its headwaters in Douglas County, but later removed near to St. Omer), and through its central portion by Brush Creek and its tributaries. Brush Creek was given its name by the early settlers of Edgar County, on account to the fact that the stream along its headwaters in Edgar was in early days heavily bordered with thickets of willows of small growth, briers, etc. The timber belt, once so heavy and broad along the western border of the township and on Brush Creek, has been reduced to small dimensions.
Notable Characters and Events.--Samuel ASHMORE was the pioneer settler of the township, although he first located just over the line in what is now Douglas County.
Noted early characters were William NOKES and William CHADD. The first was called "Old Bag o' Shot,," because of the story he told that he once carried a half-bushel bag of shot along the streets of Louisville, in the spring of the year, while the ground was so soft that he sunk in mud up to his knees at every step, and the bricks of the pavement piled up around his feet. The second was called "Old Shad," and his ability was a purveyor of marvelous stories was no less than that of "Uncle Billy" NOKES. CHADD was a "blacksmith, millwright and jack of all trades," and he started one of the earliest mills here for grinding corn. Asked by a friend one day whether his mill would grind wheat he said it would, if he had a bolting cloth. He then told that he had just tried it by grinding a bushel of nice, clean wheat and then taking it over to Redden's mill and bolting it, found he "had a hundred pounds of flour and two and one-half bushels of bran."
Talking to some friends about music one day, CHADD remarked that the jews-harp, if properly made, was the best instrument known. He said he once made one for a boy in his blacksmith shop that was the largest on record. The frame he made of tire-iron and the tongue was a inch bar of fine steel. "Why, you could hear it three miles," he said. When one of the listeners inquired how the boy got it in his mouth he treated the inquiry with contemptuous silence.
In his large repertory of similar stories was one he related to Dr. H. RUTHERFORD (to whose published reminiscences I am indebted for the above and other facts and incidents), wherein, after showing the Doctor his lancet and "pullikins" (the latter for pulling teeth), he said that those instruments had seen marvelous service. The number of teeth drawn by the "pullikins" he estimated at several barrels, and the amount of blood shed by that lancet could have been measured by the hogshead.
Thomas AFFLECK was another noted early character, who came here from Scotland. H wore a number nine hat, and was a musician as well as a mechanical genius. He described (long before the jetties were constructed at the mouth of the Mississippi) how he had invented and applied on the river Clyde a method very similar to that later adopted by Captain EADS, and when he presented his project and plans to the Board of Admiralty he was treated with little courtesy, whereupon he turned his back in disgust upon the Old World to find a home and a grave in Illinois.
The first carpenter in the township was one Robert BELL, a superior workman.
One of the first wagon-makers was named Alpheus JACQUES.
The first store was kept by William SHERIFF, on the road that led to Paris, just east of where Oakland was located. J. J. PEMBERTON hauled his stock of goods down from Chicago by wagon. But let it be remembered that at that time Chicago was not so large as Oakland is now.
The first representative of the township upon the County Board was George W. MCCONKEY.
Rural Churches.--There are five churches outside the village of Oakland. The Fairview Methodist Church, located a little west of the middle of Section 6-13-14 West, was organized November 10, 1889, by Rev. TURNER, who was then in charge of the Oakland Methodist Episcopal Church. Its present pastor is Rev. DUNDAS of the Westfield Circuit. The Fairview church is the successor of a small church started in quite an early day called Prairie Chapel, located in the southwestern part of the township.
The Prairie Union Christian Church had its beginnings in the 'sixties, and was organized in a school house near its present location on March 1, 1871, with thirty-two members. Its first elders were A. J. SHULSE, S. D. HONN and D. W. HONN. The building, costing about $1,800, was erected and dedicated the same year. It is located about the middle of Section 8-13-14 west.
Elders Harmon GREGG and Z. SWEENY were active preachers in the promotion and development of the church. It has at present no regular pastor.
Antioch Separate Baptist Church is near the county line, about one and one-half miles north of Oakland. Meetings were held as far back as 1884 in the Antioch school house near by in Douglas County, and in 1889 a Rev. MOORE organized the church, and the present frame building was put up about that time.
Rev. Ira BLYTHE is the minister now in charge of the church.
Bethel Separate Baptist Church is located on the Annin lane, about three miles southwest of Oakland, in Section 27-14-10.
Elder STANSBERRY organized the church in 1883.
The congregation is housed in a comfortable frame building and the last regularly employed pastor was Rev. J. W. JOHNS, of Toledo, Ill.
Oak Grove United Brethren Church was organized about 1885, by Rev. Z. J. BYARD, of Ashmore. It is located in the northwest corner of Section 1-13-10.
It has a frame building located about four miles south and west of Oakland. No regular pastor is now employed.
Village Organization.--The village of Oakland was started in 1835. It was first called Independence. A postoffice had been started in 1833 near by on the east in a grove of oak trees which was named Oakland. When the village was organized the postoffice was removed to it, and on February 9, 1855, the village was given the same name, by special act of the Legislature. This first postoffice was on the mail line from Paris to Decatur, and a weekly mail was carried on horseback.
The land on which Oakland was built was entered by David MCCORD in 1834, and he built a log cabin on it about 14x16 feet, near the Dr. RUTHERFORD residence. This first house on the site of the village later became the property of Dr. RUTHERFORD, and he sold it for $5.00 to be moved off and used for a stable.
Gideon M. ASHMORE was the owner of the land at the time the original plat was made, and he named the village Independence. He was a son of pioneer Samuel ASHMORE, and was a man of much public spirit and strength of character, though of very limited education. His full name was Gideon Madison and he was called "Matt" for short. He got the fever of town-site speculation after starting Independence, and the following year caused the platting of "Liberty," a proposed village about two miles north of Ashmore, on land owned by others at the time. Liberty never materialized into even a village, but the names Independence and Liberty showed the patriotic trend of their author's mind.
The early settlers were doubtless fully alive to the impulse of patriotism, but they did not take kindly to so high sounding a title for the new town as Independence, and declined to adopt it. So some settler, in a facetious or malicious mood, dubbed it "Pinhook," and the name stuck. For many years thereafter (even long after the name was officially changed to Oakland) the village was generally called by this ridiculous name.
The old "Springfield Trace" passed through the village down Main street for some distance. The late Dr. H. RUTHERFORD's residence stood on the old Trace, and the Terre Haute & Peoria Railroad followed the old road for some distance. A part of the old Trace has now become a street and is called the "Springfield Road."
Some First Things.--The first store in the new village was established by one MCCLELLAND, followed soon after by another kept by a man named TREMBLY. The men and their stores were transient and soon passed away, and for four years thereafter all goods had to be bought at Charleston or Paris.
Those were the hard times growing out of the financial troubles of 1837-40, and people had little to buy with. Corn ruled at ten cents a bushel and four-year-old steers at $10 per head.
In 1844 Robert MOSELY opened a stock of goods. Later came John MILLS and R. F. HACKETT as merchants.
Daniel PAYNE kept the first tavern.
The first physician was a Dr. MONTAGUE, who came in 1837, followed in 1838 by a Dr. William PATTON. About them little is known. Dr. Hiram RUTHERFORD came in 1840, and was thereafter for many years the principal physician of all that country. He was a man of much force of character, strong, sturdy, helpful to the people of the young community, enterprising, public-spirited, and fearless in the discharge of what he considered duty, he won the respect of all the people. He died at his home in Oakland at a ripe old age.
Business Enterprises.--In 1847 J. J. PEMBERTON went into partnership with MOSELY, and the firm of MOSELY & PEMBERTON continued until they sold to L. S. & S. M. CASH in 1855.
CLEMENT and CLARK built a steam-mill in 1854. Several attempts to operate water-mills were made in an early day near the present location of the Vandalia Railroad bridge. David MCCONKEY started one about three-fourths of a mile down the river from the bridge.
William CHADD and Alexander LAUGHLIN each had a mill near where the bridge is now, the former upon the east side and the latter on the west side of the river. Henry MCCUMBERS succeeded LAUGHLIN and one WHITLOCK succeeded MCCUMBERS. They all helped the early settlers to get their "daily bread," but none of these enterprises were profitable to their owners. The MCCONKEY and WHITLOCK mills were carried away by floods.
The CHADD mill plant was later moved to Oakland and set up on North Walnut Street. William WEST ran it awhile, followed by B. S. SMITH. The KINCAID brothers later removed it to the Vandalia Railroad at the crossing of Oak Street. The mill there now is owned by THORNTON, GWINN & SON, who bought it from the estate of the late O. M. GWINN. Other primitive mills were started early, but they are so long gone by that dates cannot be relied upon.
A large grain elevator was built in 1872 by Frank R. and Thomas COFFIN which was burned in a year or two and the COFFINS were charged with setting it on fire. The trial was one of the most sensational and stubbornly fought cases in the county's history. The elevator was rebuilt and, some years ago, was again destroyed by fire. Its site is now occupied by Robert LARIMER's warehouse.
The elevator now operating was built by PADDOCK, HODGE & CO., of Toledo, Ohio, in 1892. Shortly after the building was erected John GREEN took over the property and later PADDOCK-HODGE again assumed control, with W. L. MCLEAN as manager. After two years THOMAS and CRANE, of Veedersburg, bought the property, and that firm managed the elevator for a year, when Mr. THOMAS assumed control as sole owner. The elevator stands on the Clover Leaf track north of the depot.
The tile factory started about 1877-78, was burned some time after and never was rebuilt. LEE Brothers had a brick-kiln northwest of the city for some time, but it has not been operated for perhaps twelve years.
Two distilleries were started here years ago. One was on what is now the J. B. HENRY farm, northwest of the village, and was carried on by Messrs. SPEARS and WILLIAMS. This was probably in the early 'fifties. The other was on the old Springfield Road, just east of Dr. RUTHERFORD's old residence, and was run by a man named DAVIS.
On West Main Street, on the lot now owned by Samuel ZARLEY, there was started a saloon by a man whose name is forgotten; this was at a time when the village was young. It was a notorious drinking resort, and was a "tough" place, both in the character of some of its habitués and the quality of the "booze" sold. It was called the "Swamp Land Saloon," because some wags made the owner believe that it was located on swamp land controlled by the Government. It changed hands later and was known as the Mose HUNTER saloon.
The Terre Haute & Peoria Railroad, which passes east and west through Oakland, was built in 1872-73. It was first called the Paris & Decatur Railroad. Later it was extended from Decatur to Peoria, and the name was then changed. It is a part of the Vandalia Railroad system, and is known as the Terre Haute & Peoria Division of that line.
The Toledo, St. Louis & Western Railroad, built in 1880-81, enters the township from the north about the center of the north line of Section 9, and passing southwest through Oakland, emerges from the township near the southeast corner of Section 27.
The village was incorporated some years after it was started, but the names of its first officers cannot be learned.
Newspapers.--"The Oakland Herald" was established May 13, 1875, and the first copy was issued under the management of J. W. CRANE. Associated with him were Hiram RUTHERFORD, M. B. VALODIN and J. J. PEMBERTON as the publishers. The firm name was the "Herald Printing Company." "The Herald" was well received, but some of the business men would not advertise, believing that "The people know where we are, and if they want anything in our line they will come to us." The last issue of "The Herald" under its first management was on May 4, 1877, when Mr. A. FORSYTH took charge and conducted the business with one C. DICKS as editor. Later the material was sold and we are informed was removed to Arcola.
"The Ambraw Pilot" was started by Oscar RICKETTS, at present foreman of the Public Printing Office in Washington. This was during the 'eighties, and RICKETTS was succeeded by the UHLER Brothers, who in turn were succeeded by Samuel CHILDRESS. The latter changed the name to "The Oakland Eagle," and this name was used until the purchase of the plant by Rev. W. W. MCINTOSH, in 1896, when it was changed to "The Oakland Messenger." In 1900 A. C. MCKINSEY was taken into the firm, and later O.L. MINTER purchased the interest of both proprietors and now has full control of the paper. In politics the paper is, and always has been, Republican.
The first copy of "The Oakland Ledger" was issued from a small frame building south of the present location of the Oakland National Bank, in the year 1877. The proprietors were James S. and Lyman T. YEARGIN, father and son. The paper met with good favor and prospered. It is at present owned and published by the same family, the management and publication interests being in the hands of L. T. ('Nixie") YEARGIN. The above were all weekly papers.
The proprietors started "The Daily Ledger" in 1896. "The Ledger" has been both Republican and Democratic, its policy at the present time being Republican.
Financial Enterprises.--In the year 1873 a private banking firm, known as L. D. CARTER & CO., bankers, was organized. In August, 1874, a stock company was formed and the bank was called the Oakland Bank. October 6, 1874, a charter was secured, and the Oakland National Bank came into existence, with L. S. CASH President and John RUTHERFORD Cashier. The capital stock has remained as originally established at $53,000. The charter was renewed October 6, 1894. The present President is John RUTHERFORD, son of pioneer Dr. H. RUTHERFORD, and one of the stanch and reliable citizens of the community. The other officers are: Vice President, L. J. NORTON; Cashier, John F. MENAUGH; bookkeepers, O. B. WIDDOWS and Crawford CASH; Directors, Albert WITH, John RUTHERFORD, S. C. PEMBERTON, W. M. ZIMMERMAN, L. J. NORTON, Crawford CASH, Miss Anna RUTHERFORD.
The Citizen's Bank was organized and opened its doors on the 15th day of October, 1900. The first officers and owners were: W. G. GREGORY, President; George KIRKPATRICK, Vice-President; John H. MOFFETT, Cashier. On the death of W. G. GREGORY his widow continued to own and control his stock until 1903, when Mr. KIRKPATRICK bought her interest. A little later John H. MOFFETT sold his stock to Silas MOFFETT, of Kansas, and he in turn sold to James W. REEDS. The bank is prosperous and the present officers are: George KIRKPATRICK, President; James W. REEDS, Vice-President; George BUCKLER, Cashier.
The Oakland Building and Loan Association was chartered May 10, 1887. Its first officers were S. P. CURTIS, President; J. F. MENAUGH, Secretary, and D. W. CRAINFORD, Treasurer. The Association seemed to thrive for awhile and thirteen stock series were issued, but as there seemed to be more borrowing than investing, it was thought best to discontinue, and in 1902 its affairs were wound up by a mutual agreement of the stockholders.
Other Business Organizations.--A Creamery was organized here about 1885, but the stockholders failed to realize and the company disbanded, after disposing of the building which is now occupied by G. M. D. LEGG as a poultry house.
A Business Men's Association composed of most of the business men of the town, was organized in 1899. The officers remain the same as at the organization, viz: B. F. BURNS, President; E. N CARTER, Secretary; C. C. CASH, Treasurer.
A Mutual Improvement Club was organized among the ladies of the town in 1896. Their purpose was to study the works of Shakespeare. They have maintained their organization to the present time. The first President was Mrs. O. L MINTER. The present President is Mrs. C. J. TABER.
The Old Settlers meetings, begun in 1894, were held for five years, and the barbecue connected with them gave the city a name for hospitality it still maintains. They were organized by J. E. TIBBS, now of Tibbs, Miss.
The poultry fanciers of the city and community maintain the Oakland Poultry and Pet stock Association, an organization for the encouragement of the raising of better breeds of poultry. The organization was brought about in 1901. The first officers were: C. J. PARKER, President; V. W. ANNIN, Treasurer; C. S. HALL, Secretary. The first show was held in the winter of 1901. The present officers are: H. E. MATTOCKS, President; W. W. TAYLOR, Treasurer; O. L. MINTER, Secretary.
The Oakland Horse and Colt Show Association was organized in 1903 and the first show was held that year. B. F. BURNS was the first and is the present executive.
The Oakland Electric Light Plant was built in 1896 by James C. TABER, now of Los Angeles, Cal. In 1902 he sold out to J. W. HARDIN, who still owns and operates the plant.
The Oakland Telephone plant is owned by Messrs. W. S. ASHMORE, O. K. BURTON and F. P. MOFFETT. These gentlemen organized the system in 1897, and at present there are almost 400 'phones on their boards.
The first President of the East Oakland Township Sunday School Association was Mrs. Clara CARTER. The organization was brought about by J. M. HOPKINS, of Mattoon, about the year 1887. The present officers are: O. L. MINTER, President, and Mame WATERS, Secretary and Treasurer.
There are practically two cemeteries near the city--the old and the new. The old cemetery was stated many years ago, some of the stones showing dates of deaths as far back as 1833. The old burying ground is cared for by the city. The new one is owned by a stock company and the officers are: B. F. BURNS, President, and W. M. BOWMAN, Secretary. The two grounds lie at the north end of Cemetery Street, which would be a continuation of the Ashmore road through the city to the northern limits.
Oakland has had two very disastrous fires. The first occurred in 1883, when the east side of the public square was burned and the south side of Main Street almost to Oak Street. The second big fire was in the summer of 1902, on July 4th, when the north half of the east side of the square was burned to the ground. These fires, though disastrous to individuals, were really of benefit to the town, for the burned buildings were old and were soon replaced by modern buildings of brick.
Oakland now has the following business houses: Two hotels, two bank, three restaurants, two newspapers, two hardware stores, six grocery stores, one furniture store, two drug stores, two butcher shops, four blacksmith shops, three machine shops, one steam laundry, three livery stables, two railroads, two express companies, one light plant, a telephone exchange, four dry goods stores, opera house, six churches, one bakery, one law office, seven doctors, one photographer, one nursery, one oculist, one wall paper and paint store, one dentist, one lumber firm, one flour mill, one elevator, two coal dealers, two harness shops, tow implement and carriage dealers, three saloons, one pool room, a beautiful park, several miles of concrete walk and many beautiful residences.
The population of the township, according to the census of 1900, was 2, 403, and that of the city of Oakland, 1,198. The latter is now believed to approximate 1,400.
City Churches.--The first religious body to form an organization in what is now the city of Oakland was the Presbyterian. they started here about 1831, and the earliest preachers called to mind were Rev. Isaac BENNETT and Rev. John MCDONALD, both of whom had recently settled at Muddy Point. The people first worshipped in a small log church, which was built on the present site of the old cemetery. Later a frame building was erected about where the public square now is, and in 1844 another structure was erected, which is now used as a barn for the undertaking establishment of H. A. SUDDUTH, located just south of the Methodist Episcopal Church on Washington Street. The present frame edifice was erected during the fifties. Revs. VENABLE and MONTGOMERY came later, and still later came Rev. S. J. BOVELL, as pastor. The present Elders are: V. W. ANNIN, C. N. BLACK, J. N. ANTHONY and O. L. MINTER, and the present pastor is Rev. William W. WILSON.
The Methodist Episcopal Church in Oakland was organized in 1856. Progress was slow for awhile and Rev. Arthur G. BRADSHAW took up the work in 1858. In 1859 the church, which has been in the Camargo circuit, came into the Oakland circuit. The latter was made up of of four churches, the Oakland, Bradshaw Chapel, Mt. Pleasant and McReynolds Chapel. Rev. Joseph LANE was the first circuit rider in the Oakland circuit. The first quarterly meeting was held in Oakland in October, 1859. The church did not have a building of its own until 1860. In that year a frame building was erected on the site of the present church building (on East Washington, on block east of Pike Street) and the Rev. L. C. PITNER, Presiding Elder, preached the dedicatory sermon. Enough subscriptions were secured at this meeting to pay the building debt in full. In 1861 Rev. J. C. BAKER, the pastor, preached a strong Union sermon. His language was so vigorous as to offend a number of members and they withdrew from the church. A new and imposing edifice of brick, with stone trimmings, was built on the old site in 1891, during the pastorate of Rev. M. C. PALMER. A parsonage was built in 1864 at a cost of $800, and later the present parsonage, valued at $2,500, was erected just east of the church. The present pastor is Rev. C. W. JACOBS.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Oakland was organized October 26, 1852, by Rev. James ASHMORE. In 1867 the congregation purchased the building which had been erected by the Universalists about 1853-54, and in which they had been holding their meetings prior to the purchase. The building stands on Lot 6 of Block 6 of COFFIN's Addition. Following is the verbatim report of the contract between the Cumberland Presbyterian people and the Universalists:
"On the 25th day of February, 1867, I, F. R. COFFIN, sold to the Cumberland Presbyterians, of Oakland, Coles County, Ill., lot number 6, in Block 6, in town of Oakland, for eleven hundred and eighty dollars, with the following reservation:
"That the undersigned, as trustees, and all future successors in office, do grant unto any and all Universalist preachers the privilege to preach in and occupy said property above described (meaning the Cumberland Presbyterian church), and and all times when it is not occupied by said Cumberland Presbyterians or other, by previous appointment.
"The above grant or privilege is in consideration of the said F. R. COFFIN selling to them property for eleven hundred and eighty dollars, that is well worth two thousand dollars.
"To above we, as trustees, affix our names and seals, this 20th day of May, 1867.
"J. J. PEMBERTON,
"G. W. MCCONKEY
"THOS. R. O'DELL,
The congregation still uses the same building, on which improvements have been made from time to time. The present pastor is Rev. W. L. LAWRENCE.
The Church of Christ (Christian) was organized in Oakland on May 7, 1887. Elder H. C. CASSELL was the organizer. Amasa GILBERT and Isaac WILLIAMS were the first Elders, D. H. PEPPERS and J. H. BLEVINS were the first Deacons, and Sara GILBERT the first treasurer. Elder COTTMAN, of Arcola, was the first pastor, and preached for the congregation until January 1, 1888. The Adventist Church was secured, in 1888, for Sunday School and church purposes, at a rental of $25 per annum.
The Sunday School was soon removed to the room over the postoffice, in the building where the CARTER Banking Company first had its place of business. On September 9, 1889, the Trustees of the church purchased five shares in the Oakland Building and Loan of series three. A building was erected in 1889 and dedicated by Elder F. M. RAINES on April 27, 1890. The same building is still occupied, located on Montgomery street, one block east of the northeast corner of the public square. Rev. Melnotte MILLER is the present pastor.
The Seventh Day Adventist Church was organized in Oakland during the summer of 1875. The organization grew out of a course of lectures delivered by Elder C. H. BLISS, who held meetings in a tent. There were twenty-three charter members. A "Praying Band" was maintained until June 11, 1876, when the church was formally organized by Rev. G. W. COLCORD. H. P. RICHEY, the present janitor of the Eastern Illinois Normal, was ordained Elder. The present building, located on Second and South Pike streets, was erected in 1876. The present pastoral work is done by such preachers and helpers as come along occasionally, no regular pastor being employed.
The Pentecost Church was organized in Oakland in the Adventist Church building on February 26, 1900. Rev. T. H. NELSON, Superintendent of the Pentecost Bands of the World, was the organizer. Charles D. FREEMAN, now deceased, was elected class-leader at the time of the organization. Miss Martha PARRY, assisted by Miss Tillie MECKENSTOCK, had come to Oakland a few months before February, 1900, and worked up an interest among the classes not usually reached by the regular organization. Miss Katherine KLEIN was one of the early workers. In 1901 a new frame edifice was erected on East Washington street. the present leaders of the band are Rev. and Mrs. Moses JOSSART.
There is no organization of the Roman Catholic Church in this city, though there are a good many adherents of the faith in and near the city. Pastors from Arcola and Hume used to come to the city and hold mass at the homes of prominent members. At present most of the Catholics here attend service at Brocton, in Edgar County, where there is a strong church and a regular pastor.
A body of Universalists existed here at an early day, and they built the church edifice now belonging to the Cumberland Presbyterians about 1853-54. there is no congregation of this denomination at present here.
A Baptist Church was organized here years ago, but the congregation was small and after awhile it disbanded. Until recently a lot on the West Main Street was held in the name of the Baptist Church. It was on this lot that the celebrated "Swamp Land Saloon" was kept, in very early days, which had such a odoriferous career.
Fraternal Organizations.--Oakland Lodge, A. F. and A. M., No. 219, was organized on the 7th day of October, A. M. 5856, A. D. 1856. The charter membership consisted of the following and a few others, whose names are not now remembered: Thomas E. DON CARLOS, William D. MARTIN, Alfred D. PEMBERTON, John M. KURTZ, Robert MOSELY, Peter TAYLOR and John ALLEN. Peter TAYLOR, now of Rardin, is the only charter member still surviving. The Lodge worked under dispensation, possibly a year, before the actual organization. The building in which the meetings were held, and where the first Master Masons were raised, was an old frame structure which stood on what is now the WIGGINTON corner. The building was burned in 1886, since which time the lodge has met above store rooms. For three years it has had the room above BROWN's hardware store, on the south side of the square. The first officers ere as follows:Master, Thomas E. DON CARLOS; Senior Warden, William D. MARTIN; Junior Warden, Alfred D. PEMBERTON. Other charter members were placed in the appointive offices, but the records do not show their names. The present officers are as follows: Master, F. C. WINKLER; Senior Warden, R. W. BROWN; Junior Warden, Hugh GREGORY; Treasurer, W. BOWMAN; Secretary, M. J. NAPHEW; Senior Deacon, W. M. ZIMMERMAN; Junior Deacon, C. N. BLACK; Chaplain, J. F. MENAUGH; Tyler, J. M. BRIGGS.
In 1898 the Order of Eastern Star was organized in Oakland, with a charter membership of twenty members. The work of organizing was mainly in the hands of Worthy Grand Secretary Sophia C. SCOTT, of Mattoon. The first officers were: Worthy Matron, Ida M. MARTIN; Worthy Patron, Walter S. ASHMORE; Associate Matron, Rosa ASHMORE. The present officers are: Worthy Matron, Susan PIERSON; Worthy Patron, John F. MENAUGH; Associate Matron, Mrs. S. C. PEMBERTON; Secretary, Mrs. Rose WINKLER; Treasurer, Mrs. A. M. SHAFFERT; Conductress, Mrs. H. P. MARTIN; Associate Conductress, Mrs. Link MCCALL.
An Odd Fellow's Lodge was organized in Oakland in October, 1872. There were ten charter members, of whom the only one now living is John LAWSON. Fire destroyed its records a few years ago. The meeting place of this lodge is now in the Ashmore building, on the southwest corner of the square. The present officers are: J. Wes. MCCART, N. G.; Lewis BUIRLEY, V. G.; L. P. WHANGER, Secretary. The present number of members is 100.
Welcome Encampment, No. 24, I. O. O. F., was organized January 5, 1876, and it retains the old number of the Charleston Encampment, which disbanded during the Civil War. The charter members were: M. P. SMITH, J. G. CRAWFORD, J. R. LAWSON, J. C BANDY, J. A. JOHNSON, Robt. RUTHERFORD, Stanley CASH, A. M. MARTIN. The property of the Encampment has been twice burned, so that it is impossible to get more than the facts furnished from memory and the names of the first officers cannot be learned. The first meeting place was in the old frame store building which stood on the corner where the Conaghan Opera House is now located. The frame structure was burned in the fire of 1883. The lodge suffered another disaster in 1902, when all the records and paraphernalia were again destroyed by fire. The meeting place was then in the hall above the Black store, on the northeast corner of the public square. The present meeting place is the room over the postoffice, in the Ashmore Building, on the southwest corner of the square. the present officers are as follows: L. S. CASH, C. P.; C. F. WRIGHT, H. P.; Sam ZARLEY, scribe; Ed MCGREGOR, S. W.; J. R. LAWSON, Treas.; Chas. KINCAID, J. W. The lodge now numbers seventy-eight members.
Two lodges of Knights of Pythias have existed in Oakland. Orion Lodge, No. 76, was the first organized, and it disbanded about 1888 or '89. Coriola Lodge, No. 367, was organized in 1892, and the instituting lodge was the Syracuse Lodge of Charleston, assisted by Palestine Lodge, of Mattoon. The first officers were: S. C. PEMBERTON, P. C.; L. T. YEARGIN, C. C.; E. J. MCINTIRE, V. C.; Ed APPLEGATE, Prel.; W. E. ASHMORE, K. R. S.; J. H. SCOTT, M. E.; C. S. RINGLAND, M. F.; "Pat" RICHARDSON, M. A.; Ed GANT, O. G.; Dr. PEAK, I. G. The present officers are: P. HACKETT, M. A.; O. C. PEPPER, C.C.; John ASHMORE, V. C.; George SKELTON, K. R. S.; John WALLACE, Prel.; Ferd HACKETT, M. A.; O. C. PEPPER, M. F.; R. E. MOORE, M. Exc.; John MCALLISTER, M. W.; R. E. MOORE, Rep. Gr. Lodge.
A lodge of Modern Woodmen of America was organized in Oakland January 28, 1889, with a charter membership of nineteen. the first meeting was held in the old G. A. R. Hall, and District Deputy William DYKE, of Effingham, presided as organizer. Sixteen of the charter members were present and the following officers were duly elected and installed: Venerable Consul, Jos. H. BUSBY; Worthy Adviser, O. J. RICHARDSON; Excellent Banker, Geo. A. SHOEMAKER; Clerk, James A. SMALL; Escort, W. T. MOORE; Watchman, Harry SCOTT; Sentry, Ed. FELGER. The lodge has made excellent growth and the membership at present is 210. The following are the present officers: Venerable consul, Luther P. WHANGER; Worthy Adviser, John WALLACE; Excellent Banker, M. J. NAPHEW; Clerk, W. J. MORGAN; Escort, George WATERS; Watchman, Lewis M. BUIRLEY; Sentry, E. D. ASHMORE.
A Ben Hur Lodge was organized April 3, 1901, by State Organizer BAILEY. The present officers are: Logan PEMBERTON, Chief; E. L. RIGGS, Judge; Anna MARTIN, Teacher; C. M. MARTIN, Scribe; Dr. W. N. LINN, K. of F.; John HARMON, K. of I. G.; Mrs. John HARMON, K. of O. G.; Chas. WINKLER, Lodge Deputy.
A Rebecca Lodge once existed here, but after the fire of 1902, when all the records were destroyed, the lodge was not revived.
Some time, perhaps in the early 'eighties, a lodge of Knights of Honor was started, but most of the members have passed away and no one remembers who the officers were or the exact time of organization.
Oakland Post, No. 188, Grand Army of the Republic, was organized February 20, 1883. There were nineteen charter members, and the following were officers at time of organization: G. W. MCCONKEY, Commander; L. D. CARTER, Senior Vice Commander; Firman JAMES, Junior Vice Commander; E. H. WARDEN, Adjutant; H. D. WILLIAMS, Quartermaster. The present officers are: J. M. BRIGGS, Commander; R. F. LARIMER, Senior Vice Commander; J. C. PEARCE, Junior Vice Commander; Samuel ZARLEY, Adjutant; John BALL, Quartermaster.
A chapter of Royal Arch Masons once existed in Oakland. It was organized as Oakland Chapter, No. 153, about 1872, with A. P. FORSYTH as King. John RUTHERFORD was the second King. The chapter was organized and the meetings were held in the Clark building that stood on the east side of the public square, but the building was burned in 1883. The second hall occupied by the chapter was the upper room of what is now the postoffice building. The chapter disbanded about 1884 and the members were most of them demitted. Some joined the Paris and the Kansas lodges.
At one time in the 'seventies a lodge of Grangers was organized in the township. Meetings were held in the school houses and much interest was manifested.
Some years ago the Farmer's Alliance had a lodge that met in the room over the postoffice, on the southwest corner of the square. The members met at Lake Union School House and a few meetings were held in the Berry School building. No one seems to remember the date of the organization nor the names of the leaders of the movement.
Two lodges of Red Men have been organized in the city, but at present neither one is in existence.
City Schools.--Formerly, what is now Oakland Union District No. 2, was two districts. This was prior to 1865, when the two districts were merged. The original districts were District No. --, T. 14, R11, and District No. 1, T. 14, R. 10. J. N. ROHR, M. B. VALODIN and J. O. BLACK were Directors of the first named district and J. J. PEMBERTON, W. D. BUSBEY and D. W. MITCHELL were Directors of the district in Range 10 in 1865. When the districts were merged the members of the Board for the new Union district were selected from those six men, and J. J. PEMBERTON, J. N. ROHR and M. B. VALODIN were named. Dr. Hiram RUTHERFORD was appointed Treasurer and the office has always been kept in the RUTHERFORD family, the present Treasurer, John F. MENAUGH, being a son-in-law of the late Dr. RUTHERFORD.
In 1865 a four-room structure was erected for the Union District, which was District 1, T. 14, R 10. this building was on Pike Street, in Crawford's Addition to the city of Oakland. The first teachers employed in 1865 were G. W. WILLIAMS, Miss Mahala CLEMENT and N. R. DUER. The present number of the District is No. 2, and the splendid new $30,000 ten-room building is located northwest of the public square one block. G. J. KOONS is the present Superintendent and Ed HONN is Principal of the High School, which has a four-year course and is in the list of accredited schools of the Illinois State University.
There are ten country schools in the township. In Township 14, Range 14 West, are the following: Lake Union (No. 128), in the northwest quarter of Section 9, named from a small lake near by. The building was erected in the 'seventies and a Mr. SKIDMORE now teaches there.
Berry School (No. 127), named for a prominent family living near, is in the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 7. the building was put up in the early seventies. Miss Clara LUCE was the last teacher.
Enode School (No. 1) building was erected about 1869. It is in the southwest quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 20. Its last session was taught by Ed. GOBERT.
West Donica (No. 5), located near the southwest corner of Section 29, received its name from pioneer Hiram DONICA. Its building was put up about 1869, and its first teacher (or one of the first) was Jackson SUTTON. Its last teacher was Miss Nora SLATER.
In Town 14, Range 10 East, are two schools.
Egypt (No. 4), in the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 25, had a building put up about 1853, which served its day, and was succeeded by the present building, erected about 1885. George FOLGER taught there early and Miss Kate CARROLL was the last teacher.
Canaan (No. 3) School building, erected about 1877, is near the southeast corner of Section 27. An early school was taught there by Cortes O'HAIR and the last by Harlan WHITE.
In Town 13, Range 10, is the Ward School (No. 8), sometimes called the "Yaller Hammer," because a former lady teacher there taught singing and the boys evidently considered her a "bird." the school was started and the house built about 1871-72. it is in the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 11. Its first teacher was Miss Ellen COX, and its last Albert HARVEY.
In Town 13, Range 11, in the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 7, is Shady Grove School (No. &), which was started in the early 'fifties. Susan GLASS was an early teacher there, and the last teacher was Edward SMITH.
There are two schools in Town 13, Range 14 West. The Bell School (No. 6), near the southwest corner of Section 5, named for a settler near by, was another very early school. About 1853-54 it was started and a house built. One W. C. PARRISH was an early teacher and Miss Lizzie CURRENS taught there last.
Near the northeast corner of Section 9 is the Shively School (No. 146). The building was erected about 1870. The district includes a small area of Edgar County. Lola ECKARD is the latest teacher.
Return to the main index page for Coles County
©2004, Transcribed by Judy Anderson for Illinois Genealogy Trails