THE HISTORY OF WHITE CITY
By Dorrell Kilduff - Taken from the "The Story of Macoupin County 1829-1979"
White city is a village in Mt. Olive Township developed due to the opening of coal Mine No. 15. It was incorporated in 1907. Some of the descendants of the farmers who had been in the area for half a century or more worked in the mine. Many more workers were needed however.
A number of the new arrivals from Europe who settled in White City were Croatians. Here they found work under better conditions than miners in this area had known for 25 years before. A good two-story brick house was built. When children finished elementary school there, they had only a mile or so to walk into Mt. Olive to high school. In the village, people had gardens, fruit trees and kept cows , pigs and poultry which all helped to provide them with good food.
Ann Zupsich Morris, in her little pamphlet “Nicknames” gives us glimpses of how children amused themselves in such a village. She had a sled in winter and looked forward to Spring because cows were let out of the barn, and “we would sweep up the floor of the grain room and play house in there.” In May, they took off their shoes and went barefoot all summer. “It was painful to put them back on again on Sunday…more of a pain to get school shoes on again in September.” She had to carry water across the street to their cow in hot weather, but she “loved to walk down those roads thick with dust…and kick the warm white dust ahead of me.”
As teenagers in winter, they skated on the Mine Company pond; boys played “shinney” on the ice with a Pet Milk can. In summer, King’s Rezzie (now called King’s Lake was their favorite place to swim. “The smell of fish in the water tells me it’s time to go fishing again.” An mentions several people who play instruments and a recording group called the Dunav Tamburitza whose records she still plays. Young people danced at the Club Hall and “Itch was such a fancy dresser when he went to Tarro’s. Everyone would look to see what he was wearing every Saturday night.” Some times when the gang played “dead” they’d cover the dead person with leaves as usual; then instead of singing and moaning, which was the signal for the one playing dead to rise up and chase them to catch a new victim, they’d sneak away leaving the dead one to wait. “Nothing worse than that could happen to you in White City, unless it would be to be in the outhouse when the kids decided to dump it on Halloween Night.”
By 1920, there were a few more than 500 people living in White City; during the Depression,
the number dropped rapidly and continued to decrease with each census.
[Donated by Anne Stinnett]