El Paso Township

Synopsis from the El Paso section of "The Woodford County History"
writen by Mrs. Ethel Eft

El Paso Band - 1912


Thomas and Permelia Radcliff Dixon settled in Kansas Township about 1829 and operated a water-powered "corn cracker" grist mill on the Mackinaw River near the ford which still bears his name. He purchased several parcels of land in that area before moving in 1833 to El Paso Township. The house was located south of the present Harold Kring home. Because they did not patent the land until April 16, 1841, there has been some confuion as to the identity of the first residents of the township.

John and David Hibbs and their wives patented land in Section 28 in 1835, as had another brother, William. John and Hanna Hibbs and David and Susan Hibbs located in this section in 1839.

Caleb and Elizabeth Horn settled about 1842, in the triangle between the stage route between Bloomington and Hennepin. Here they operated a post office known as Roxan, though no one seems to know the source of the name.

By 1853 at least 17 families had settled in the township. Most of the homes were small, though few were built of logs. Some of the lumber was hauled from as far away as Pekin, while others were built from lumber sawed in mills along the Mackinaw or in Greene Township.

El Paso Township was organized in April 1855 with W. W. Sears the first supervisor.

Railroads

The Illinois Central Railroad was built in 1852-53 from LaSalle to Bloomington, largely with grants of land in alternating sections. Town sites were surveyed along the route and named by the railroad officials. Kappa received its name from the 10th letter of the Greek alphabet because it was No. 10 station, counting south from Dunleith.
A section house, a residence for railroad gent, and a depot were built in 1852, and several residences and a railroad warehouse had been added before the first train came through on May 23, 1853. Sometime that year or early in 1854 the post office, known as Roxan, was moved into the village and William Jones became the first postmaster, with the office in his general store. He called the place Montrose, but the railroad continued to use the name of Kappa, so Jones finally agreed, and the early name remains to the present.
The first train which arrived at the junction brought the lumber that was used by the Jenkins brothers for construction of a general store, which was located on the corner of Front and Cherry streets a block east of the unction. The streets had been surveyed and named by the promoters prior to completion of the railroad.
In the spring of 1854, a name was selected for the town. After straws were drawn by George L Gibson and James H. Wathens (no one could decided on the town’s name), Gibson won the draw - named the town El Paso after the Spanish term meaning "the pass". It’s believed that Ben Hazlett was the first station agent.
The first two houses were bult on Front Street, just east of the Jenkins Bros. general store. Thomsa McClennan began a house on the corner which was completed by William C. Bayne. David Hibbs, who had built a cabin in 1835, built a house just west of Bayne’s. Both burned in a fire which destroyed George W. Fridley’s elevator on May 1, 1890. The elevator was built in 1868 and rebuilt on the same site following the fire. It has been remodeled and is now operated by the El Paso Milling Company. Fridley’s elevator was the first in town. The Jenkins brothers had purchased grain at their general store, but it always had to be loaded from the farmer’s wagons directly into the freight cars, so the elevator was a great improvement.
George L. Gibson and James H. "Major" Wathen were the towns promoters. Both were living in Washington, Ill, moving to El Paso in 1857. The Major (no service record - courtesy title) built his home in 1858. It has been enlarged and some interior remodeling done, and is now The Elms Restaurant, owned and operated by Leland Morgan (as of this writing, The Elms has closed down - 2007). The Denman house on Route 51, one half mile south of town, was built by William Denman in 1856. It is now the home of the Robert O. Mayne family, and is the oldest farm home in the area in continuous use since its building.
Goerge Bison built his home at the east end of First Street, in an area which he later annexed to the original town. He was born in Pennsylvania, October 2, 1818, and came to Illinois with his parents in 1831. He married Miss Matilda Heath in Ohio June 1, 1843.
In late 1856 Handley King built his home at the corner of First and Pine streets and his aunt, a Mrs. Cooper, taught the first school there. There were 20 pupils, including Jennie Fishburn, who later became a teacher in the community.
Harry H. Hewitt was the first public school teacher. The school was built in 1857 and soon became so crowded tat Jennie Fishburn volunteered to assist. Several rooms were added and for several years small buildings located on the alley west of the present United Church of Christ were pressed into classrooms.
The Presbyterian and Methodist churches were organized in 1857, the Baptist in 1858 and the Congregational Church built on Second Street north of Jefferson Park in 1859. El Paso’s first hotel, the Union House, was built in late 1856 by John and Eli Bennett. Dr. Samuel L. Kerr and Dr. Alanson V. Stockwell both had offices in El Paso before 1860.
The building which replaced the Eagle Blacok after the fire of 1894 was only two stories, instead of three, and the City Council met on the second floor. Omer North, John H. Welch and William J. Render were the building committee; Peter Donner, mayor; H. J. Tegtmeyer, clerk; and C. M. Parmalee, treasurer, at the time.
A wooden building on the Illinois Central right-of-way, on the north side of First Street at Central, was El Paso’s first jail. James F. Keys is the only marshal whose identity is known, who served before 1875. The second jail was of brick and was always called the "calaboose." The building was sold to R. L. Beshers for $145, plus paving assessments, and he removed it.
Police officers were elected when the city was under special charter, W. T. Tucker, elected in 1875, being the first of which we have record. Elmer (Wing) Taylor was appointed in December 1911, and served until January 1, 1948 (only a short time before his death on January 17), the longest period served by any of our police officers. The present officers are William Price, chief; Theodore Fultz, assistant. El Paso police covered their town on foot until December, 1949, when the council purchased an automobile for police use. Joseph G. Baker and Horace H. Baker are the only father and son to serve as El Paso mayors. The latter was the youngest man ever elected to the office, being just 26. Clyde Tegard is the only mayor born in El Paso. J. B. Michels served for eight years as mayor (though not consecutive terms), the longest period of any mayor.
Herman Marten was treasurer in 1929-1930 and was elected clerk in 1931, serving to 1953 (the longest service in that office). J. W. Everett served as alderman from the First Ward from 1929 to 1941, when he was elected mayor. He died while in office on November 10, 1947. Dwight Roth alderman in the First Ward became acting mayor in September, 1960, after the resignation of William Maxey and was elected to the office in 1961. He died of a heart attack February 13, 1965, minutes after completing welcoming remarks at the dedication of the new post office, which was held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building.
Five women have served as city treasurer: Miss Emma Glessing, 1921-22; Miss Nell Patterson, 1927-28; Mrs. Rose Meddaugh, 1931-32; Mrs. Clara Clark, 1933-37; Mrs. Ruth Arbogast, 1941-49.

County Seat

El Paso requested the transfer of the county seat from Metamora to El Paso in 1867, arguing that the two railroads provided better transportation facilities. Robert G. Ingersoll represented El Paso before the board of supervisors, offering the board $30,000 if the transfer was made. El Paso lost in the election held June 3, 1867 by a vote of 1,911 to 1,901. Roanoke and Metamora also sought to be named county seat, but in 1894 Eureka offered its city square as a site for the new courthouse and the offer wad accepted in the following election. The courthouse was completed in 1897.

Post Office

William M. Jenkins was appointed postmaster on March 21, 1857, and opened the office in a section of the Jenkins Bros. general store. He was succeeded by Hezekiah Buckley on March 19, 1861. Mrs. Martha Robinson was appointed February 28, 1863; Otha P. Richards March 9, 1865; and Mrs. Robinson reappointed August 14, 1866.
Since that time, El Paso has had many postmasters and the post office location has changed several times. The first rooms built specifically for post office quarters were built by the First National Bank on Central Street. A new post office was built in 1964 and Harold R. Bonar is the present postmaster, appointed in 1967.

Fires

Between 1856 and 1873 El Paso had grown from a railroad crossing on the prairie to a town with eight churches, two flour mills, a brrel factory, a brewery, a rundhouse, an iron foundry, plow and wagon factories, two lumber years, a planing mill, several livery stables, three buggy and carriage factories, three elevators, a newspaper, several hotels, ikn addition to a number of stores and four three-story structures.
During the period between 1868 and 1894, many of these buildings were destroyed by fire, some were rebuilt, and burned again, but most vanished from scene entirely. George Gibson built a flour mill on the present Corn Belt Park site in 1868; it burned February 11, 1868 and burned in 1869. It was rebuilt on a larger scale, converted to an elevator in 1874, and burned July 19, 1921.
In 1873 the Bigham & McOmber buggy and carriage factory and livery stable and the Seary & Rouse elevator burned. The elevator was rebuilt and the building burned February 21, 1930.
David Craft’s palning mill and the Webster Elevator burned September 19, 1875. Arson was suspected when the Illinois Central roundhouse burned in late 1880’s.
On October 10, 1888, the buildings facing Front stree east of the Illinois Central Railroad were all distroyed. The fire began in the hotel located at the corner of Front and Cherry streets. It resulted in an ordiance forbidding construction of business louses in blocks 41, 42, and 43 unless built with brick walls and fire resistand roofs.
Seven months later, on May 8, 1889, fire began in coal sheds owned by the Illinois Central Railroad, and a high south wind carried sparkes northward. The railraod agent’s house west of the tracks, the freight houses at the railroad crossing, the Summit House (a hotel), Saltzberger’s grocery, the S. S. Patton barn, and the Christian Geiger residence, four blocks northeast, all burned. The Campbell House was badly damaged.

Fire Department

The first volunteer fire department was authorized by the City council on October 14, 1875, and the first fire house was built in the fall of 1877.
A new fire station was erected in the fall of 1964.

Banks

John G. Ferguson and E. T. Disonay established the first bank in El paso in 1864. After several changes in the partnership, the firm of Shur, Tompkins & Company built the Eagle Building in 1871-72. The bank was moved to the ground floor of the new building; Tompkins later bought out the other members of the firm. The bank failed in 1883, and depositors received abut 7% of their deposits in the following settlement.
The National Bank of El Paso was organized in June, 1883, after some difficulty because of Tompkins failure, and the fact that El Paso’s bondsmen had paid deficits of some count officers who had defaulted. The new bank began business July 11, 1883, in Tompkins former quarters. The building burned, but the bank resumed operation as soon as the new building was completed. Later the name was changed to The First National Bank of El Paso.
The Woodford County National Bank opened for business on September 2, 1900, in the Hendron Building. It has been remodeled several times and a new front put on in 1905.

Library

The Ladies Library Association was organized in February 1873, and shares were sold at $3 each to provide funds for the new project. Members of the new organization donated their services as librarians. Some of the librarians were: Mrs. S. H. Worthington, Mrs. S. T. Curtiss, Mrs. W. G. Johnson, Miss Sarah Gough, Mrs. Carrie Tucker, Miss Nortense Ferrell and Miss Katherine Jenkins. Mrs. R. A. Burster has been librarian since 1944; Mrs. Lloyd Pfister, Mrs. Merval Byerly and Mrs. Max Lemon are assistants.

Newspapers

Five newspapers began publication in El Paso between February 1, 1863 and November, 1896, but only one had more than a few months of life. The Gazette, a four-page pagper, was published by Robert Cauch; The True Patriot, a ‘states’ rights’ advocate, by Charles R. Fiske; The Woodford County Republican by M. T. Hyer; The El Paso Press; and the Saturday Review by Curtiss and Williams have left but a few scattered references which tell of their existence. Hyer moved to Eureka in 1896; The True Patriot was purchased by J. W. Wolfe and consolidated with The El Paso Journal in November 1865.
John T. Harper founded The El Paso Journal on April 5, 1865. It changed ownership 12 times before February 11, 1889 when it was purchased by George R. Curtiss. In 1885 W. D. Meek had purchased the Review from Curtiss and Williams, who were employed by Meek in the publication of The El Paso Journal. A. O. Rupp purchased the Journal in September, 1886. Curtiss, who continued with the paper, bought it in 1889 and sold an interest to Robert Evans. They continued publication in the Eagle Block. After the fire in 1894, they salvaged the equipment they could and continued publication in the old creamery building on Route 24 until the new building was completed, in December, 1894, on the former location.
Evans sold his interest to Curtiss on September 15, 1904. In 1912 the business was moved from the bank building to the first floor of a building, just completed, on Central Street. Publication date was changed from SAturday to Thursday on June 23, 1910. Mr. Curtiss died May 2, 1946. Chester Curtiss, who had been employed in the Journal office for many years, continued its publication after his brother’s death until October 16, 1946, when the paper was purchased by John F. McGuire of Chicago. He discontinued publication November 16, 1950.
Walter Bailey began publishing the El Paso Advertiser on October 31, 1940, printing it in Normal until the spring of 1942 when he opened an office in El Paso. He purchased the Gridley Advance in January, 1956, and merged the two papers under the name of El Paso Advertiser-Advance. Following his death in 1961, his wife, Clara, continued the business. She was assissted by their sons, Donald and Eugene. She died March 7, 1963. Donald bought his brother’s interest in the business July 22, 1965. He is assissted by his wife, Frances.
Webb Hartmen published The El Paso News for a few months in the fall of 1960.

Cemeteries

The El Paso Cemetery Accociation was organized August 11, 1859 to solicit funds for the purchase of a site for a cemetery. Section 4, located east of the village, was a part of the Illinois land grant to the Illinois Central Railroad, which agreed to sell the NE 1/4 of the SE1/4 for $1,000. Alexander Hawthorn, Dr. Samuel L. Kerr, Robert McClellan, George L. Gibson, and L. B. McOmber made up the committee which completed the purchase. Stock was sold at $10 per share. The purchase agreement was approved and Governor Yates approved the charter February 14, 1861.
Dr. Stockwell replaced Mr. Gibson and with others of the purchasing committee they were elected directors of the new cemetery association, with Dr. Kerr as president; Mr. Hawthorn, vice president; and Mr. Gibson, treasurer.
Early burial records for the cemetery were lost when the home of the sexton, James T. Hewitt, burned on February 21, 18890. A number of persons were transferred from farm graves, so some stones show earlier deaths than the cemetery records would provide, and it cannot be determined when the first burial occurred.
William Heifing purchased 2.7 acres in the northwest corner of the cemetery on August 4, 1870 and the following day he transferred the property to Bishop Foley of Chicago, head of the Roman Catholic Church, Illinois Diocese. It has been the burial site for German members of St. Mary’s congregation since that time. It is called St. Joseph’s Cemetery.
St Mary’s Cemetery, lolcated one and one-half miles north of town, is used by the Irish members of St. Mary’s. It was purchased by Bishop Foley October 10, 1870, from John and Rosetta DeBolt.
The west 20 acres of the cometery were sold to Lewis and Horace McOmber on June 12, 1868. In 1903 a cement walk was extended on Second Street from Adams Street east to the cemetery entrance. A township highway on the south side of the cemetery was vacated in 1917 and a quilt claim deed from adjoining landowner James W. Cleary secured the area for an addition to the cemetery.
A. E. Fleming and J. J. DeMotte built a 200-crypt mausoleum of steel reinforced concrete blocks near the north central part of the cemetery in 1908. Mr. Fleming purchased the DeMotte interest and after Fleming’s death, the building came into possession of the cemetery association.
An infant daughter of David and Susan Hibbs, who died in 1849, is believed to be the first burial in the Hibbs-Bigger cemetery, on the Hibbs land in Section 28. This was also the first cemetery in the township, the one at the northeast corner of Kappa being established several years later.
Undertakers: Most of the early morticians in El Paso had other businesses as well, and a number remained in the community only a few years. William Neifing, who had a harness shop in the 1860’s, and who buried Count Clopicki, and William Zinkan, a furniture dealer who died here in 1908, probably served the longest. Mr. Zinkan’s son, Chris, assisted him for some years. Mr. Zinkan and his son had three unusual funerals - that of William Fleming, El Paso’s tallest man (couldn’t use a horse); George Kraker, a baker and El Paso’s fattest man; and David Strother, the first Negro voter in the U.S. after the 15th Amendment.
John W. Becker, in the 1890’s and early 1900’s, and Joshua J. DeMotte, who moved here from Eureka in 1896, were others. DeMotte sold his business to John J. Fecken in 1919, and sold his furniture business several years later to Burt L. Brown. Mr. Ficken had a funeral parlor on East Front Street before he purchased the home of Captain W. M. Bullock and remodeled it for a funeral home.
After Mr. Ficken’s death the business was sold to R. W. Vincent and Albert Otto, January 23, 1943. Mr. Vincent bought the Otto interest in January, 1950, and then sold the business to William Froelich, of Gridley, September 21, 1967. It has been continued as the Vincent Memorial Home.

Professional Men

Doctors: Before 1894 most doctors came to El Paso and statyed for a few months, a decade at most. Among the early ones were Alanson V. Stockwell, Albert Reynolds, Jr., Dnaiel Lewis, L. B. Martin, J. M. Berry, and John quincy Adams.
Samuel L. Kerr, was the first physician who came from Kappa in 1857. He was active in the community, was mayor in 1886. D. W. Lamme, another physician served as mayor in 1880.
In 1968: E. E. Cryer, Robert P. Lykkeback, Darwin H. and Isabella Pope, Cletus T. Kearney, and R. E. Gordon.

Lawyers: 1900 - W. G. Randall from New York, Calvin E. Barney, Simon P. Shope, Benjamin F. Baker, Walter Bullock, McCulloch & Cloud. All practiced in 1860’s and some a little later.
The Robert T. Cassell family had five lawyers: Robert was a native of Kentucky, came to Metamora abut 1838 and was admitted to the bar in 1851. He served in the State Legislature in 1867-68 and came to El Paso about that time. He was a partner with E. G. Ingersoll of Peoria, and his two sons, Joseph J. and Martin H. Cassell. Joseph was the only judge of El Paso’s Recorder’s Court. Martin was postmaster from January, 1880 until 1887, when he was elected county judge.
A. M.Cavan, born in Pennsylvania, in May, 1838, came to El Paso after the Civil War and studied in the offices of Harper, Cassell, and Ingersoll. He was amitted to the bar in 1867, elected for a term in the legislature in 1870, served as city attorney for some time, and was postmaster from 1880 until elected county judge in 1890, and served as judge for eight years.
Other lawyers: Christian Schroeder, Isaac B. Hammers, and John F. Bosworth.

Veterinarians: J. W. Parkinson was a vet in the 1890’s and was the earliest of whom was found in record. W. D. Carver practiced from 1895-1949. F. J. Krenz was another who practiced in El Paso. Dr. J. A. Owens practiced from 1925-1946 (until his death). Ezra Kelsey bought Dr. Owen’s equipment in September, 1946. G. E. Scott was associated with him in 1952-53. Richard White joined Dr. Kelsey in June, 1955, and on January 1, 1967 Dr. White opened his own office.


Dentists: P. A. Ferbrache, a native of Ohio, L. G. Roberts and son, who were in El Paso in 1865, and Mark. H. Patton who came in 1872 being the earliest. James M. Fishburn was another dentist and Gordon D. Heiple is the current dentist (1968).


The names of three brothers, natives of Lancaster, Va., appear frequently in the early history. Isaac Merideth Jenkins, Sr. (January 20, 1803-December 15, 1897); Robert Smith Jenkins (June 23, 1812-1830); and William Merideth Jenkins (March 23, 1814-about 1890) settled first at Kickapoo where they operated a grist and saw mill. They came to El Paso in the spring of 1856 and built the first store, and moved to the town in 1857. Isaac and Caroline Bicking Jenkins lost three sons in one week in 1860, during an epidemic. Isaac, Jr. and Katherine were born later. The family farmed just east of El Paso.

Industry

Only one of the businesses which were in operation a century ago is still in operation (1968). A lumber yeard, which was started in 1858 by George L. and Cyrus Gibson, was purchased in 1868 by A. S. McKinney, of Elmwood, and James Hotchkiss, of Peoria. McKinney bought out his partner; then in 1890 bought the stock from the Lee S. and Guy Straight yard on the east wye and moved the entire operation west to the area between the west wye and the two railroads.
John McKinney joined his father in the business and continued it after his father’s death in 1921. The Kent Lumber & Coal Company purchased the business on January 15, 1944, and Mr. McKinney retired. The lumber sheds were rebuilt in 1952 and 1953, and a new office building was erected in 1966.
The Mitchell, Harper & Company plow and wagon factory also manufactured several kinds of cultivators. The factory was converted into a livery stable abut 1885. The Muller and McWilliams wagon and farm implement shop,, I. Lemon and sons blacksmith shop and wagon factory, and the Gibson flour mill were all located in the block where the present Corn Belt Park is located. The mill burned in 1882, and the other businesses were finally removed, the site providing the clay for the El Paso Tile and Brick Works, which was begun in 1883 by Lee S. Straight and Elias Furman. William Climpse and son, Clint, moved from Kappa in 1890 and operated another brick factory.
Welte, Sachs, Tegard, Mitchell, Patton, and Colburn, maintained livery or feed barns at times. The Pierce Furniture Store Building was built for a stable, but was changed to a garage when its builders, Peter Donner and D. P. Risser, decided "Dobbin" was on the way out, and automobiles would soon replace him. The Patton barn was converted to a broom factory in 1920, and then to a garage by the Boyd Motor Company in 1926. Herschel Boyd built a new garage in 1948 and the old building was dismantled.
A. H. Wolk and Fred Crane built the first greenhouse. R. E. Gordon purchased the Plumb interest and the company specialized in raising carnations for a number of years. The Frank Hartzell greenhouse began in 1957.

In the summer of 1898, Asa and John Shepard built an elevator. It was purchased for $7,250. in 1903 by a group of farmers who had organized the El Paso Elevator Company. Later they bought the Enright Station and built elevators in Kappa and Panola. The business is now owned by a corporation with Homer Sturm as manager (1968). The name has remained the same. The White Elevator was built by a group of farmers in 1921 and sold to C. C. Kingdon in 1935. It was purchased by the El Paso Elevator Company in 1953.

J. J. Dauth has operated a blacksmith shop since 1927. Early blacksmiths usually worked in connection with a wagon or buggy factory. James Ross is believed to be the earliest in El Paso, having a shop in 1857.

Hotels

Many early hotels were destroyed by fire with the exception of the Campbell House. George H. Campbell built the Campbell House in 1862 on land he leased from the Illinois Central Railroad. The building combined a railroad depot and hotel. Mr. Campbell died in 1896, and his son, Harry, continued the business until 1914. Later a number of companies and individuals leased it, in whole or in part, but the rapid decline of passenger traffic on the railroads made it unprofitable. The building was vacant for several years and was razed in 1938.
The Clifton Hotel, built by W. H. Ferguson, burned in 1894; was rebuilt closed its dining room in 1938, and has been vacant since 1946.
Mrs. Zilpha Morgan purchased the James Wathen house and in 1939, opened it as a tourest home. She added a number of cabins later and opened a dining room in 1953. The business is continued by Leland Morgan, who added a large dining room in 1965. "The Elms" caters to clubs and organizations as well as to individuals (as of this writing, 2007, The Elms has closed their door).
The Corn Belt Motel, opened in 1952 by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Stine; the El Paso Motel, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Everett Treece; and Roger Benson’s Stage Stop Motel, built in 1957, provide additional tourist accommodations. Mr. and Mrs. Earl Burroughs discontinued a similar business in 1967, after 25 years in operation.

Those in the military

Six men from El Paso were killed in the Civil War while in action; 27 died of wounds or disease. Some were buried on the battlefield. None were returned home. Some of those men who served in the Civil War are:

Capt. Wingfield M. Bullcik, commander of Company E., 108th Illinois Regiment, went from Eureka, but moved to a farm north of El Paso following the war. He was wounded in the leg in the attack on Spanish Fort guarding Mobile Bay, and had a pronounced limp until he died.

Harry Dewitt Cook, originally from New York, organized Company G of the 4th Illinois Cavalry in August, 1861. The company was made up entirely of local men. He resigned as a Republican member of the State Legislature to do so. After advancing to major he returned home and was again elected to the Legislature. Rehabilitation work for veterans took him to New York and Washington, D.C. later.

Lt. Samuel T. rogers was second in command of Company A of the 86th Illinois Infantry. The El Paso Post No. 531 Grand Army of the Republic was named for him. Of the 14 El Paso men in this company, four were killed in action in 1864. Two others were captured and died in a Confederate prison. Only four members were living when the El Paso G. A. R. Post was disbanded.
Henry P. Ore of Kappa lost his life in the Indian campaign in the West, which followed the Civil War. David Hannah, a native of New Jersey, also served in the West, and came to El Paso later where he engaged in farming. Three men from El Paso and another, who came later, served in the Spanish-American War.

Chester Blumenshine, John Lincoln North, Fred S. Skinner, and Nelson Kamp of El Paso lost their lives in World War I.

Women served in the armed forces for the first time during World War II, and 22 from the El Paso area served in various branches of service during that time. Twenty-seven men of the area lost their lives in World War II.

Many men of the community served in the Korean Conflict. Among the first to be called were 18 members of an El Paso reserve unit, Battery A, 831st Field Artillery. Several others, who were members of the 144th Battalion of the 44th Division’s Anti-Aircraft Artillery, were also called. Donald Miller of Kappa, who was wounded Christmas Day, 1951, and died after being returned to the U.S. for hospitalization, was the only death from this conflict.
Since the Korean episode a number have served in various branches of the armed services, some with the Army of Occupation in Europe. At the close of 1967 others are serving in Vietnam (this article was written in 1968).


Prominent People

January 1, 1895 Dr. R. E. Gordon opened his office. Before this he had been in Benson just under a year. The oldest son of Dr. Jerry Taylor and Mary Annas Gordon, he was born in Carlyle, Illinois, September 5, 1873.
Dr. Gordon moved his office to 54 North Central Street after a few years and he maintained it there the rest of his life. He married Della C. Chappelle of Rolla, Missouri, July 8, 1894. They had four children: Virgil C., Noel E. (deceased), Robert Stanley, and Mrs. Virginia Gordon Wiese.
Dr. Gordon served as alderman from 1910-20, and as mayor in 1926-27. He opened the first facility in Woodford County for care of tuberculosis patients on May 7, 1908. The "Han-Gon_Tan Tuberculosis Sanitarium" was only in operation for two years. During his 57 years of medical practice, he delivered approximately 4,500 babies. Doctor Gordon died at his home November 16, 1951.

Levi F. Smith opened a photograph gallery in 1869, recording nearly 60 years of El Paso history. He was born October 7, 1855 in Holden, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin and Sarah Smith. When he was just past 21 he married Emma Laura Arnold. She was the daughter of Isaac M. and Sarah V. Arnold., who lived northwest of El Paso. Mrs. Arnold was a talented artist and painted the picture of Andrew Carnegie which hangs in the public library.
Mrs. Smith was also a photographer and worked with her husband regularly. Mr. Smith died on March 18, 1929. Their children: Roy A. died in his youth, and Max, who was associated with the First National Bank of El Paso, and its successor, the El Paso National Bank. Mr. Smith is also a talented musician and has played viola with the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra.

David Strother, a Negro barber, arrived at the polls to cast his ballot on Monday, April 4, 1870. He was the first Negro voter after the 15th amendment to vote ("the right of citizens to vote shall not be denied on account of race, color, or previous condition or servitude."). Later that day, his brother, Charles, voted. David was born in Lexington, Missouri, August 18, 1843, the son of parents who were slaves. He was a cook on a Mississippi River steamer before becoming a civilian cook with Company G, 17th Illinois Infantry. Many men from El Paso served in that unit, and urged Dave to move to El Paso. Jonathan Parks was one of these men, and he gave Dave space in a corner of his insurance and Justice of the Peace office, to set up his barber chair. He later moved his shop to the basement of the Eagle Block and was joined by his brother, Charles. Charles died of tuberculosis in April 1897, and Dave’s wife, Elizabeth Gaines Strother, died July 12, 1901 from the same cause. Dave died March 12, 1905 of a heart attack. In 1954 a marker was placed on his grave in Evergreen Cemetery by the American Legion.

Horace H. Baker was mayor from 1911-17, was the youngest man to hold office, having reached 26 years of age just four days before he was elected. He was born April 14, 1884 at Buckley, Illinois, and was the son of Joseph G. and Julia Lincoln Baker. He was the Woodford Co. states attorney from 1932-36 and the first circuit judge to be elected from the county in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. He served in the office from 1936-39. He married Glenna Bonar on November 25, 1909. Their son, Frederick Bonar Baker, joined his father in the law firm of Baker and Baker in 1939. He died unexpectedly on March 2, 1947, following a heart attack at his home.

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen was born in a second floor apartment in El Paso, abut his father’s store. He is the son of Newton and Delia Fulton Sheen and was christened Peter John, but sometime after he entered the priesthood he dropped his first name, and, to honor his mother, adopted her maiden name. He was ordained in 1919, and continued his studies in Washington, D.C. and Europe, returning in 1926 to become professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of America.

Frank H. Shuman, son of George and Lucretia Shuman, graduate of El Paso schools and the University of Illinois in 1921, carried his agriculture know how half way around the world. He was a farm adviser in Jersey and Whiteside counties for 25 years. In 1952 government officials asked him to go to the Technical Institue in Allahabad, India, to work under a Ford Foundation grant for the training of the people in improved food production methods. The Shuman’s spent four years in India and two and one-half years in Afghanistan. They returned to the U.S. and he announced his retirement. He returned to India in 1964 to help in a co-operative project between six U.S. land grant colleges and the Indian government.

Other KNOWN El Pasoans: Rt. Rev. Msgr. Thomas Cleary, 1885-1961, pastor, teacher and historian; Robert Barracks, 1898, newspaper editor in St. Louis, Mo., press officer in the Navy, and later at the Office of Information, Washington, D.C.; Walter Rocke Evans, 1892, professional wrestler, and world middle-weight champion in the 1920’s, later a golf champion; Don Cash Seaton, former Illinois state director of physical education, and later physical education and track coach at the University of Kentucky; Dr. John S. Dyser, a historian, who became president of Northwestern State college of Louisiana; Mark Evans, talented organist, teacher and arranger; Brig. Gen. Clay M. Donner, career soldier, serving in World War I and II; and Cletus Lee Schwitters, known to movie goers as "Bryon Keith" (not to be confused with Bryan Keith), and is now involved with the technical side of the movie business.

Not so pleasant events

P. C. Ransom, who was mayor of El Paso in 1877-78, shot and killed Walter Bullock, an El Paso attorney, on May 2, 1888. The shooting occurred as the result of a quarrel which began in a political disagreement. Since local feeling ran high against Ransom, he took a change of venue and was tried in Lacon. In January, 1882, he was acquitted on a plea of self-defense.

Two group of boys got into an altercation on Route 24, near the intersection with Route 51, on January 28, 1947, and Edward Perry Bennett, a popular member of the El Paso football team, was stabbed, and died before aid arrived. Dewey Cook, 17, of Farina, Illinois, pleaded guilty to man-slaughter and was sentenced to 14 years in the penitentiary. Edward and Frederick Hollingsworth, who were with Cook, were similarly charged, but were acquitted.

John Seggerman died November 3, 1949, at his home in El Paso, from a shotgun would inflicted by his wife following a quarrel. She was acquitted of a charge of murder on her plea of self-defense.

For more details on the history of El Paso please turn to the "El Paso Centennial Publication"