Pleasant Hill

Pleasant Hill Twp.
Pike County Illinois

Contributed by Billie Browning April 2009


The village of Pleasant Hill is very pleasantly located on Section 16-21 along the bluffs in the Mississippi valley. It is on the line of the Chicago and Alton railroad. The business section of the town being located under the hill. The village was laid out by Eli and Charles Hubbard and John McMullen in 1836, and was incorporated in 1869, Dr. John A. Thomas being its first president. At this tine it contained a snail population, a few stores, a post office and a blacksmith shop.

Pleasant Hill had the first license from the County Commissioner's Court in 1821, to keep a tavern and also to sell liquor.

The first sermon preached was delivered by Stephen Ruddle in 1826. He had been held it by the" Indians for sixteen years. The man/s ability and knowledge was such that almost every person in the township cane out to hear him preach.

Main Street - Pleasant Hill, Illinois (1872)
This is the side of the street the Christian Church is on
Contributed by Bill Browning from the John Thomas Collection
Dr. J.H. South has a full supply of American, French, and English Chemicals, Drugs, Medicine, Hair Brushes, Dye Stuffs, Patent Medicines, Perfumery, and Stationery. Long & Boren Dealers in Stove, Tin, & Hollow Ware, also on hand a full supply of Harness, Saddles, &c, Repairing promptly attend to :n both lines. Smith S. Thomas Dealer in Dry Goods, Clothing, & Groceries, Queensware, Hardware, Glassware, Hats & Caps, Boots & Shoes. The yellow note in the upper right hand corner says: Smith Slaughter Thomas was a brother to Dr. John A. Thomas. As a side note - Dr. John A. Thomas was the first doctor in Pleasant Hill and also the first Mayor.

Among the very earliest settlers was Jacob Turnbeaugh, who emigrated with his parents from Kentucky, in 1827. At this early day, where the village of Pleasant Hill then stood was a dense wilderness, known as "Bear Thicket," and just one mile west of this, surrounded by an almost impenetrable forest, and on land now owned by Mrs. Stella Webster, near the Steokland school house, was the small, one-roomed log house, the home of the boy, Jacob Turnbeaugh. At this early period of history the country was sparsely settled and native savages with numerous and ferocious animals caused the early settlers untold suffering. Mr. Turnbeaugh helped to erect the first building ever put up in Pleasant Hill, this being located where the Baptist church building now stands. Another event noticeable is that the subject of this sketch, was born the same year that Illinois was admitted to the Union (1818). He was the last of the old settlers of Pleasant Hill township and lived to see the country change from it's wild state to a fertile field of plenty; a living monument to the noble work of the sturdy pioneers with whom he cast his lot in life.

The first school house was erected in 1832. The Pleasant Hill Public School was erected in 1890, and destroyed by fire on November 19, 1914. The following poem, "The School House Fire" was composed by Edna (Caylor) Hedges, a pupil in the schools

"On the nineteenth of November, when the day was bitter cold
People gathered at the school year, men and women, young and old.
It was a fire that caused the gathering the people, who were there,
They had cone to rescue children, and to keep then in their care.

A sound above us in the morning, was the first thing that we heard
A sound like rats, gnawing something, or the flutter of a bird.
The wind was blowing very hard, but not a sign of rain
They tried to put the fire out, but it was all in vain.

It was a fearful thing to think of, as we gazed upon the flame,
But I think it was understood by all that we were not to blame.
We watched and waited patiently, as the fire was burning fast,
"He listened, and in a moment, the old bell topped it's last.

Our hearts were filled with sorrow, as we shivered with cold and fear
Some left jeering, some left shouting, and many, left in tears.
Our sorrows now have passed away, and by keeping the Golden Rule,
I think before another year, we'll have a better school."

In due time this building was replaced by the present grade building located on the same site. In 1920, a modern and commodious Community High School was built, which has since been the pride and inspiration of the people.

Pleasant Hill now has four churches, Baptist, Christian, Methodist, and Church of Christ. The Baptist church which eminated from the Martinsburg or "Mother Church" was organized as an independent church, on May the fourth, 1857, the two having worked together from 1845 - 1857. Among some of its prominent members were: Lawson Turner and wife, Susan; Jacob; Emert and his wife, Eliza; John A. Thomas and wife, Sarah E.; John M. Collard, and wife, Mary; Jacob Windmiller and his wife, Sarah; Jacob Turnbeaugh, and wife Sarah; G.W. Byee, Eliza Venable and Margaret Craigmiles. The first church was built in the hill, in 1852 during the pastorate of Rev. David Hubbard. In 1914, a beautiful modern church building was built under the hill.

The Christian church occupies the site where the first Christian church in the township was built, and which was destroyed by a tornado in July 1883. Prior to the building of this first house of worship, the congregation held services in a building that stood on the hill, and familiarly known, as the "Old Tobacco Factory." The present house was built in 1888, the dedication sermon being preached by Elder Strawn. The ground for the building was donated by Dr. L.A. Mosier, and early settler of the town. Among some of its earliest members worthy of mention, were: Alec Ferguson and wife; John Galloway and wife; Joseph Galloway and family; Ira Roberts and family; Dr. H. D. Fortune and wife; Mrs. Cynthia Huber, Mr. John Grafford and wife; Mrs. William Barton and daughters.

The Methodist Episcopal church was built in 1891, during the pastorate of Rev. J. W. Madison. The original Society worshipped in the Stockland church, which was one of the oldest in the township, being organized in 1836. (The writer's grandmother, Mary Wells, being one of its first members). As the town grew in population, and some of the country members had moved there in, it became necessary to erect a new building on the present location. Some of the very earliest members of this organization were: Richard Carr and wife; W. F. Berry and wife; Perry Wells and wife; F. J. Dunaven and wife; Rev. Fred Priestley and wife; and in 1922, the church of Christ organization built a modern brick building in the southwest part of town, which, with its beautiful and well kept lawn, has added much to the attractiveness of the town.

In September 1903, the Citizens State Bank was organized, with N. R. Shultz, president; W. A. Windmiller, Vice President, and C. D. Thomas, cashier. A good bank building was erected with one or more store rooms on the ground floor and offices or lodge rooms on the second floor. The rooms retained for the banking business are large, neat and well furnished. This business block is a credit to the town, and to the country, and the bank has enjoyed a constantly increasing business; its usefulness and convenience is greatly appreciated by the entire community.

Among the list of medical men who gave their best years to the public are: Dr. John A. Thomas, whose ancestors were natives of Wales, and immigrated to the U. S. about forty years previous to the Revolution, settling in Virginia. Dr. Thomas was born in 1818 and came to Pike County in 1849, settling at Pleasant Hill, where he continued his profession for a long period. He was recognized as one of the prominent physicians of the County, his business extending over a large territory. In many a hone he was the beloved family doctor, whose aid could always be counted upon and whose labor was an efficient element in checking the ravages of disease and restoring health.

Dr. Thomas was twice married. Of the first union, four children were born, Dr. J. Smith, Lizzie, Mary and C.J. Of the second marriage were three children, A.J. and W.S. now both deceased, and Clarence C., cashier of Citizens State Bank. He was also an extensive land owner. He erected a large and beautiful residence on the hill, at a cost of $6,000.00 which is now owned and occupied by the son, Clarence and Milo E. Galloway & wife.

Dr. J. Smith Thomas, son of Dr. John A. Thomas, was reared in the village of Pleasant Hill, and took up the study of medicine with his father, as his preceptor. Later, he pursued courses of lectures in college and was graduated from Ohio Medical College at Cincinnati in 1872. Returning to Pleasant Hill, he entered into practice with his father, the practice continuing until the father's death in 1888. During his long period of medical profession, a number of young men studied under him and later engaged in practice with him, namely, Dr. F. M. Crane, now deceased; Dr. L. S. Lacy, a successful practictioner of Pittsfield, Illinois and his nephew, Dr. R. P. Wells. Dr. Thomas married Miss Molly Wells, daughter of Perry Wells, one of the most prominent early settlers. To this union five children were born, Mrs. Grace Darrah, Mrs. Blanch (Dot) Waugh, Mrs. Lizzie Archer, and Mrs. Jesse Galloway and Leslie.

Dr. Thomas was a man who loved his work and no night was too stormy or distance too far, for him to answer a call from the sick and afflicted. His personal practice extended over a period of forty years, and in connection with his father, their services to Pleasant Hill were continuous for sixty three years.

Dr. H. D. Fortune was a native of Missouri and a graduate of St. Louis Medical College, and also one of Pleasant Hill's old practictioners, having located here in 1874. His professional services extended over a period of almost thirty five years, or until his death. He was twice married, his last union being with Miss Julia Richards in 1892, and who still survives him.

Doctors Wells and Goodman are numbered among the younger representatives of the medical fraternity. Dr. Wells, a native of Pleasant Hill, is the son of George and Miriam (Webster) Wells. He graduated from Barnes Medical school in 1904, and was associated with his uncle, J. Smith Thomas, until his death. He married Miss Alta Cornwell and they have two children, Mrs. Mildred Pace and Maxine, a student in a girl's college at Gulf Port, Miss.

Dr. James E. Goodman is a native of Missouri and came to Pleasant Hill in 1912. He, also, is a graduate of Barnes Medical College. He married Miss Virginia K. Ogden, also a native of Missouri, and they have three children; Lawrence, now a student in the University of Illinois, Eugene, a freshman in high school, and Kathryn, a grade school student. Both Doctors Wells and Goodman in connection with their growing practice are keeping in touch with the modern and scientific lines that are continually being made by the medical profession.

Among a few of the well known citizens whose lives added much to the glory and prosperity of the town area. S. H. Clare, a druggist, and who formed a large portion of the history of Pleasant Hill, was a native of Missouri. At the early age of eighteen, he entered the drug business with W. B. Carlisle, as an apprentice, in Clarksville, mo. In 1874, Mr. Carlisle and Mr. Clare opened the doors of a new enterprise, a drug store in Pleasant Hill. A few years later, Mr. Clare bought Carlisle's interest and continued the business alone, being actively engaged in business until 1920, when ill health caused him to retire after a long career of almost fifty years. He was one of the oldest druggists in the U. S. to be actively engaged in the business and looking after his own interest in the matter. He and his store had a wide acquaintance and mark a marked success. He received a heavy loss in a destructive fire which occurred in 1915, destroying the Baker Harness shop, Clare Drug Store, Bernard Riley Merchandise, Opera House and Hotel. He was succeeded in business by L. E. Bownan, who in turn was succeeded by P. R. Dickerson, our present druggist.

W. A. Windmiller, a well known business man and whose entire life was spent in and near Pleasant Hill, was engaged in General Mercantile business for fourteen years. He witnessed much of the growth and development of the town and helped to improve and make it what it is today. He was succeeded in business by his brother, C. F. Windmiller in 1904, who had served as his efficient clerk for ten years, and who carried on a successful business for many years.

A name also long familiar in mercantile lines, is that of Craigmiles. Peter Craigmiles, father of W. H. Craigmiles, a present day merchant, was for many years associated in a business of his own, succeeded by his sons, C. J. and W. H., who continued as partners until 1900, when W. H. became the sole owner and who has been actively engaged to the preĀ­sent time, during which his business grew and he erected a modern brick building which he now occupies.

Among other business men worthy of mention are: Olif Swainson, John & George Bybee, John and George Galloway, Bower Brothers, Billings Brothers, Lewis Brothers, Mayo & Milo Galloway, L. E. Oakley, E. F. Barton, T. E. Gurney and James L. Stocker. At the present time, Pleasant Hill has two doctors and one dentist.

The business consists of the following: The bank, hotel, printing office, post office, with two rural routes, one general store, a dry goods store, four grocery stores, a drug store, furniture and undertaking establishment, a cleaning and pressing establishment, two restaurants, three barber shops, a blacksmith and welding shop, picture show, lumber yard, hatchery and poultry house, four garages and four filling stations.

Each business is being operated by men who are progressive, active and enterprising, and who are important factors in development, in the way of schools, churches, public improvements and all matters pertaining to the people's interests.

Thus, in a period covering ninety nine years, Pleasant Hill has grown from a village in the wilderness to one of the most progressive towns in South Pike County!

"A town, where all the people in it, are folks you like to meet,
They're all a friendly, busy folk, but never forget to greet
Their neighbors, with a friendly smile, and loved ones who return
From many a distant mile, so you might search the wide world o'er
But it would be hard to find, a little town more pleasant
Or people, more good and kind."

Compiled and written by Mrs. Etta (Wells) Bowen, For the Study Club - 1936