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Washington County, Illinois
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The House That Houses The
Washington County Historical Society
photo of Washington County  Historical Society Museum
The museum is located in the 300 block of South Kaskaskia Street
in Nashville and can be visited by appointment only.
Mail questions & requests to :
Washington County Historical Society, P.O. Box 9, Nashville, IL 62263
according to : The Nashville News, Nashville, Illinois,May 11, 2011
           The Historical Museum will be "open for tours the first Sunday of each month starting in June", 2011.
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Succession of Owners
Information courtesy of Elaine Rucker, 2014
John Paul Jones (original owner)
Washington County Historical Society
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Articles About the House the Washington County Historical Society and Museum Owns
Written and Provided by Wanda Groennert
Transcribed by Jo House
These articels appeared in the The Nashville News, Nashville, Illinois in 1991
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The Nashville News, Wednesday, June 19, 1991
Washington County Historical Museum
Who Am I?
      I was born in 1872 and my life has been a long one. One hundred nineteen years to be exact.
      My lifetime has spanned the generations of Washington County. In particular since 1968 my life has taken on a whole new meaning. Many changes have taken place in my life and more are to come in future years.
      The beauty of my being is "in the eye of the beholder," but I must tell you though in recent years I feel more beautiful than ever, due to all the activity that has taken place within me.
      When you get my age it is not uncommon to have things fall apart, piece by piece. However, many friends have looked after me down through the years and you can't believe how grateful I am that I'm even here. I owe it all to you - "the public."
      If you haven't guessed who I am by now, I'll let you in on a secret. I'm your Washington County Historical Society Museum.
      As I stand gracefully in the midst of this county, I've maintained your history and the artifacts of your ancestors and there are many.
      And that's what this column will be about. We will try to perk your interest enough to make you want to visit your museum. We are always acquiring new additions from the old times to the recent times. A good example is the old melodeon brought over from Germany in 1852 by some of our first German immigrants to the recently acquired Desert Storm uniform worn by Washington Counties (sic) first "grandma" to serve in a war.
      I suppose this is why out of town visitors say we have a "unique museum" and it's as fine as any they've seen anywhere. Many never expect to see the history of a county displayed in various ways, let alone that a small community would have something like this.
      I do want to be around to usher in the next century and with your help and support I shall be. I am your "house of history with a history." Check me out on a Sunday afternoon 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. or by special appointment. I shall be waiting for your visit.
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The Nashville News, date unknown
Washington County Historical Society
From Hope to Despair in 8 Years
      John Paul Jones was born May 1, 1845 in Charleston, Mass. He was one of four children of Charles Faneuil Jones and Sarah Barbara Vinton. Charles Faneuil Jones was the great-grandson of John Jones and Mary Ann Faneuil, the sister of Peter Faneuil, who gave Faneuil Hall to the City of Boston in 1742. "Faneuil Hall" in Boston is known as "the cradle of liberty."
      John Paul Jones came to Washington County in 1867. By 1871 he was courting Kate Le Compte. With this courtship came thoughts of marriage and hope for building a new home for his bride and the family that was to follow.
      On August 29, 1871, John Paul Jones secured a warranty deed for lot 1 and other lots in the J. W. Campbell addition in the City of Nashville from John H. and Sarah Mitchell for $1,350.00.
      On October 9, 1871 John Paul Jones and Kate Le Compte were married in Nashville. Plans were drawn up to build a new home on the above lots, and on May 4, 1872 work was started on the cellar of their new home. By July, 1872 the home was going up rapidly and it was to have a mansard roof.
      The trouble that was to plaque (sic) the family throughout their marriage was evident from the beginning. The customary cast iron balcony at the second floor level was planned, as is evidenced by the large iron bolts on the outside brick walls. Rumor had it that the builder did not have sufficient funds to take delivery of the balcony and it was returned to the foundry in St. Louis.
      It would seem the rumor was true, for within six months (December 12, 1872) John Paul delivered a trust deed on the property to Thomas Knobelach as security on a note for $3,000.00, payable in 3 years at 10% interest.
      The building of this three story brick home caused them much heartache and by January 1, 1874 John Paul and Kate took on more debt with a promisory (sic) note for $2,500.00 due in 3 years, with the Sawyer-McCracken Company, the company John Paul worked for. On September 12, 1874 a mortgage was put on the property to cover the note. The mortgage was satisfied by a compromise by John Paul and the trustee of the Sawyer-McCracken Co. and ratified by the committee of creditors of said company in bankruptcy in August 1875.
      During this time John Paul and Kate were trying to raise a family. They had 3 daughters: Harriet Vinton, born October 5, 1872, died April 18, 1958; Elizabeth Le Compte, born December 23, 1874, died July 3, 1947; Marie Faneuil, born July 25, 1877, died August 20, 1965.
      By April, 1878, the trust deed given to Thomas Knobelch in December of 1872, was called and the property passed out of the Jones family for $4,800.00 as payment in full.
      What had began with great expectations - a courtship, a marriage, the building of a new brick home and raising a family, ended eight years after it started with John Paul Jones' death on March 26, 1879 of typus (sic) fever. It is ironic that the family home could have been saved, had it not been for the French government and the United States government.
(Continued next week.)
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The Nashville News, July, 1991
Washington County Historical Society
Revenge is Sweet, But a Little Late
      Had the litigation that had been on the dockets since the 1840s between the French government and the United States been settled during John Paul's lifetime, he may have remained debt free, and the family could have kept their home. The following appeared in the Nashville Journal, lifted from the St. Louis Republic - 1899.
"Sues for $2,416.95"
      "Hattie V. Simmons filed suit yesterday against Dr. Charles F. Simmons, president of C. F. Simmons Medicine Co., for $2,416.95; which it is alleged he received from the Atlas National Bank of Boston, Massachusetts, on July 5, 1899. The money, so the petition sets forth, was gotten for her by the defendant, and she alleges that he has refused to give it to her. The plaintiff is the wife of Harry Simmons and daughter-in-law of Dr. Simmons. Her maiden name was Hattie Jones.
      It appears that quite a history is connected with the money, which has caused the present litigation. It is part of a sum paid by the French government to the Jones family for a vessel which their privateers captured over 50 years ago. The ship was the property of the plaintiff's great-grandfather. The suit pended before the International Committee of France and the United States for many years, but the Jones family could gain no satisfaction.
      Finally, this government put in a specific claim for the amount of the ship. Even after this demand was made, the payment was put off for years. It was only recently that the heirs have succeeded in obtaining their rights. The amount for which Mrs. Simmons is suing for is her share of the whole amount paid by the French government. She has retained Judge J. P. Vastine to carry on her suit and says she intends fighting the cause to the end, even if it costs more than the amount due.
      Mrs. Kate Jones and children, Misses Mamie and Bessie, and Mrs. Simmons received about $8,000.00 from the long pending claim."
      It is not a known fact, but perhaps John Paul built his "dream home on the hopes that the French government would settle this claim, and he would own his home free and clear. It didn't happen. The dream became a nightmare. Seventy years after his death, his wife and children received the benefits, and then only after another court fight.
      Now you know the rest of the story as Paul Harvey would say. "The House of History" really does have a history all its own, and that is why we say it is a "house of history with a history."
      When you visit this old house, maybe you can reflect on the past of this family and their hardships and think how lucky, we as a county are, to have this old building to house the artifacts of our own ancestors. It was a long time coming full circle. Some of the remaining family members who have visited "our museum" are just as proud of the old building and its contents as are we who are privileged to be a part of the museum. The Washington County Historical Society museum is open on Sundays 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. or by special appointment.
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The Nashville News, August 7, 1991
Washington County Historical Society
The Birthing Stool
      The museum has many old and interesting artifacts. One of the most unusual items is the "birthing stool," located in the second floor bedroom.
      The story of the "birthing stool" was handed down through the generations of the Buhrman family and is as follows.
      "When the Buhrman family came to America in 1856, great-grandmother Buhrman was expecting her second child. The long voyage at sea was prolonged by stormy weather and rolling seas. The descendants were told that the small wooden stool with handles was built aboard ship by the father for the comfort of his wife. The stool, made out of walnut, must have been her prized possession, since it was made aboard ship and used by her and kept by the family for generations."
      Several years ago the stool was donated to our museum by the family to take its place with the other furniture the family has donated. All are museum pieces and we are very fortunate to have them. The family also donated an unusual mododeon that they brought over from Germany. It is located on the first floor. Of the hundreds of people who have gone through the museum since the "birthing stool" has been received, only one person knew what it was, because she had seen one at another museum and you don't see it, ask the hostess to point it out to you. You may never see another -- it's that unusual. ...
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