Historical Sketches of Jackson County, Illinois was written by Edmun Newsome, published in 1882. Excerpts are provided below.
Mr. Ben. Boone, who was born in this county soon after its first settlement, had taken great pains to gather the facts and dates about the early settlement of the county, intending to publish it soon, but unfortunately, his manuscript was consumed by lire, and Mr. Boone died since that time, therefore the public has lost such a history as can never be replaced, for he was the only man that could have written it. He, however, has furnished the writer with a short account of the first settlement of Brownsville, which is used herein.
When the Cairo and St. Louis Rail Road (Narrow Gauge,) was opened through
from Murphysboro to Cairo, a town was laid off in Cave Creek bottom, in
section 28, Town 10 South, Range 2 West, in Ridge Township, and named
Very soon dwelling houses and store houses were built, but no station house was erected by the rail-road company for some time; they only made a side-track and platform. Some parties built a sawmill on the west side of the rail-road, and ran it awhile, but getting into difficulty, the sherriff levied on the machinery. During the absence of that officer, the parties took the engine, which was one of those on wheels, and rolled it on a flat-car, then put on the saw and frame and ran the whole to East St. Louis. This was long spoken of as "the town where a saw-mill was stolen and taken away."
Some time afterwards, the company built a station house. Other parties built a saw-mill and a flour-mill on the west side and near the site of the mill that was said to have been stolen.
Pomona is now a lively little town and is doing considerable business. A few years ago, it was incorporated, and elected municipal officers.
A station was made where the Cairo and St. Louis Rail Road crosses Cedar
Creek in the northern part of Ridge Township, and a station house was built.
Some parties built a saw-mill there also, and very soon houses began to
spring up in the woods, and it seemed that a prosperous little town would be
the result. The new village received the name of "Eltham."
After running for some time, the mill was destroyed by fire, but another one was built in its place. Some time afterwards this mill shared the fate of its predecessor. The station house was also consumed in the same conflagration. The town was abandoned to its original solitude, with the exception of passing of trains, and the post-office was removed three miles farther north, to Gillmore's mill.
Mr. John M. Gill owned land in the south-east corner of Ora Township, in
section 36. Here he laid off a town on the Cairo and St. Louis Rail Road,
which runs through this land. The town was named, "Gillsboro."
This village had a late start, but bids fair to become a lively place. It now contains several store houses and dwellings, also a saw-mill and a post-office.
About eight or nine years ago, a railroad line was surveyed from Mt.
Carbon to Pinckneyville, and running through the north-west quarter of
section 34, Town 8 South, Range 2 West. This land had been purchased by the
Carbondale Coal and Coke Company which proposed to make the road. The
general financial panic coming on about that time, the project was postponed
A few years ago, the company commenced work again by erecting a long row of coke ovens on the land before described; they also sank a coal shaft a mile or so farther westward. They then built a railroad from Carbondale to run by the ovens and shaft and connect with the Cairo and St. Louis Rail Road about two miles north of the station at Murphysboro.
The company then built a rail-road from the ovens to Pinckneyville where it connects with other roads leading to St. Louis. They can now ship coal or coke directly to that city.
Around the ovens, the dwellings of the workmen form a village called "Harrison."
Many years ago, a post-office was established at the cross-roads in
section 9, Town 7 South, Range 4 "West, and was called "Bradley." A store
was opened and goods sold to the farmers living near. The people also built
a church close by. This is just west of the ridge called Campbell Hill.
When the Narrow Gauge Rail Road was built, the people near Bradley Post-office tried to have a station there, but some other parties tried to have the station at another place three fourths of a mile farther north-west, and succeeded. At that place lots were laid off, a side track made, and two stores and a blacksmith shop built. This new town was called "Bradley."
Meanwhile, Mr. Mohlenbroch, thinking it very awkward to have the post-office at one place and the station at another, raised the enthusiasm of the people and by the influence and liberality of himself and others, laid off a town at the post-office, built a large flour mill, and finally induced the company to make a station there also. As the other town had already appropriated their name, they called this town "Campbell Hill."
Soon dwelling houses and store houses sprang up on the ground. One of the store houses at Bradley was rolled up on two flat cars and by the aid of mules, moved to the new village. A side track was made and a station house built; the mill was soon up and in operation, and the town outgrew its rival. It is now a prosperous little town, while Bradley is forgotten.
Many years ago, a man named Wright settled at a point on the Murphysboro
and Chester road, in section 25, Town 7 South, Range 4 West, on a high ridge
between the head waters of Kinkaid and Rattlesnake Creeks. Here he built a
saloon near the road, displaying the sign, "Head Quarters." In this house he
dispensed the "ardent" to his neighbors and to thirsty travelers for many
years. The place was known as Head Quarters far and near, and the character
of some of the inhabitants of the vicinity was such as might have been
expected, with a branch of the bank of his infernal majesty in their midst
Some years ago, several houses and store buildings were erected, and Head Quarters began to look like a town. When the Cairo and St. Louis Rail Road was built and a station made there, the land owners and the rail-road company laid out a town and named it "Ava."
After the rail-road was opened, the town began to increase rapidly. Many of the rowdies in the neighborhood have been brought to justice or run off; but some acts of violence have been committed since the road was opened, such as throwing the train off the track. It is to be hoped the influence of the more moral class of citizens, whose wealth and industry build up the town, will gradually diffuse intelligence and purify the community.
Ava is now a flourishing town, containing many fine buildings, some of them, including the post-office, are built of brick. A newspaper has been published there for several years.
About the year 1857, certain land owners, thinking it would be a good
thing to have a town in Elk Prairie, Mr. Ashley, who was then division
engineer of the southern division of the Illinois Central Rail Road, having
assured them that a station would be made there, laid off a town in section
17, Town 7 South, Range 1 West, in Elk Township. Mr. Ashley set men to grade
the side-track. The citizens appointed a day on which to sell lots at public
auction. When the day arrived, a large crowd assembled, and the sale was
progressing in a lively manner, when they were surprised by the scream of an
extra train approaching rapidly from the north. As the train came to a stand
among them, some of the people gathered around it and found that it
contained what rail-road men expressively called the "Royal family," or the
President arid other chief officers of the rail-road company. Mr. Osborn,
the President, asked in apparent surprise, "What is going on here? What does
this crowd mean?" When informed, he said, "There will be no station here.
Stop that sale at ONCE." He was informed that Mr. Ashley had the side-track
graded and was going to make a station there. The President turned to
McClellan, his chief engineer, who was present, saying, "Did you give Mr.
Ashley such orders?" Mr. McClellan denied having given any such orders. The
train returned to Centralia, and the President, in a rage, telegraphed to
Mr. Ashley, asking, “Who gave you orders to make a station in Elk Prairie?"
The answer was, "McClellan." The President replied, "He denies it. Come up
on next train and confront him." Then Ashley was angry, he said to those
around him, "Yes, I will go and make McClellan acknowledge it.” When he met
them at Centralia, he still insisted that McClellan gave him verbal orders
to make that station, and that officer still denied it until Ashley shook
his big fist at Little Mac's nose and made him own to it in Osborn's
presence. It seems that they had made a mistake and wanted to make a
scape-goat of Ashley, but could not succeed. The matter was hushed up, the
town was killed, and laid dormant for many years, until after McClellan had
been commander of armies, when he so gallantly didn't take Richmond, and had
run for the high office of President of the United States, but was defeated
Some time after the war was over, the town plat was revived, lots were sold, a station house built and side-track made. Then people began to erect dwellings and store houses. It is a small town, and is not likely to grow much. There is no hotel or public accommodation for travelers arriving by the trains.
DeSoto was named after the Spanish traveler who, in his search for the
Fountain of Youth, discovered the Mississippi River, and was buried on its
This town is situated in sections 16, 17, 20 and 21; but mostly in section 20, in Town 8 South, Range 1 West. It was laid off in the woods at the time of the building of the Illinois Central Rail Road, about the year 1853. It is of the same age as Carbondale.
The rail-road company owned land in section 20 and laid off lots west of the rail-road, also a row of fractional lots east of the road. Other parties laid off lots on the east side, but the streets in the two plats do not correspond with each other.
The business part is on the west side except the hotel. Most of the town is on the west side. The town grew to its present size in a few years then stopped. There has been very little improvement for many years. A few years ago a fire destroyed nearly half of the business portion, and very few of the houses have been rebuilt.
The town is situated in a flat country, with Big Muddy nearly half way round it; the river being about a mile east of the town, two miles south and half of a mile south-west.
DeSoto is not much of a business place. Sometimes it has almost the appearance of a deserted town, many of the front store houses being empty. There are several churches in the town, some of them are very good looking buildings. Two flour mills were there, but one has been removed.
When the route of the Illinois Central Rail Road was laid off, the
engineers had to follow the valley of Drury Creek through the hilly country
in the southern part of Jackson and the northern part of Union Counties.
This valley has the appearance of a great crack or fissure in the hills,
with mostly precipitous sides, and through this runs Drury. A person can
almost imagine a convulsion of nature that opened a crack running north and
south for miles, making ragged edges and broken rocks tumbling down the
steep sides, then afterwards the gap gradually partly filled up with soil
washed from the hills.
A mile and a quarter north of the county line, in the west side of section 27, Town 10 South, Range 1 West, the company built a water tank and a boarding house, made a station and called it “Makanda."
Sometime about the year 1863, Mr. Zimmerman laid off town lots on the east side of the rail-road, and several houses and stores were erected. Mr. Martin Reynolds had built a mill for sawing lumber and grinding grain in 1861, on the west side of the creek and rail-road, which are here close together. About the year 1866, lots were laid off by Lummis and also by Evans on the west side, and afterwards on both sides by T. W. Thompson and others.
There is quite a romantic looking village nestled in the valley and up the steep rocky hills on each side, where the houses perch one above another on ledges. The church is up on a high point overlooking the town. The company has built two brick tanks and a passenger house at that place.
This town is in the midst of the fruit region, and is an important place in the fruit season. It would soon become a large town if there was room enough to build one; but, cramped up as it is in such a narrow valley, there is not much chance for it to grow.
During several years, a box-factory was in operation in the south part of the town, which supplied shippers with fruit-boxes, but it was removed. The mill that Reynolds built near the bridge, was operated for many years by O'Fallon, but he removed it to Gillsboro a few years ago. Other parties set up a grist-mill and box-factory on the same site.
The school house is on the west side at the foot of the bluff. The inhabitants of Makanda and vicinity are industrious and intelligent people.
This is scarcely to be considered a town, but as it has a name, and is
about such a place as Eltham once was, although not a regular station, yet
it must not be omitted.
When the Illinois Central Rail Road was in process of construction, the builders used a large quantity of stone for culverts and ballast. This stone was quarried in the north-east corner of section 9, Town 10 South, Range 1 West, in Makanda Township, and half way from Makanda to Carbondale. They made a track across Drury Creek and loaded the cars in the quarry. After the road was finished, and the company had quit using the stone, the quarry track was taken up, but a side-track was left for the convenience in switching irregular trains out of the way.
When the State of Illinois was erecting the Normal University at Carbondale, the red sand-stone used in that structure, was taken from this quarry, and after that was finished, much stone was shipped to distant parts by Mr. Johnson.
In 1876, Mr. E. P. Purdy brought a saw-mill to this place, setting it up near the side-track for convenience in loading lumber on the cars.
At the same time, Mr. S. Cleland, who was then owner of the quarry land, laid oil" town lots on the west side of the rail-road opposite to the mill, and named the place "Boskydale." Several houses were built and a few families dwelt there. Mr. Cleland made a business of quarrying stone and shipping it to distant places for building purposes. He employed a gang of men in the business.
More houses were needed, therefore Mr. E. M. Hanson laid off an addition in 1877, and several more houses were erected.
The town is in the valley of Drury. It is not likely ever to be much of a town. It has already gained a bad character for rowdyism. Murder has been committed there.
This is one of the towns that was, and is not. It existed only about
seven years. It was a mining town; and when the mines were abandoned, the
miners left the houses vacant.
In the year 1850, the Jackson County Coal Company opened their first mine three fourths of a mile south of Murphysboro, in the south-west quarter of section 9, Town 9 South, Range 2 West. Mr. E. Holden was superintendent. Their mines were all tunnels. The miners were mostly from Scotland, therefore many persons called the place "Scotch Town." Quite a number of houses were built for the men to reside in, for most of them had families.
The Scotch were some of them zealous followers of Joseph Smith, but not
of Brigham Young, at least not outwardly. Mr. Edwin Hanson built a store
house and kept store there. The company built a large boarding house and
Mrs. Willis took charge of it and cooked for the boarders. The miners who
had no families and the young men that worked for the company above ground,
For several years this was quite a busy place, and a good market for the produce that farmers have to sell.
The miners, as usual, were a rowdy sot, especially when they were drunk. One night the miners were offended at something that Zeri Byers had said, about them making so much noise that he could not sleep. The next night they got drunk and danced and swore, and threatened Byres; thus they kept up a row all night to the disturbance of the whole community. Mr. Kitchen, a-carpenter, who boarded at another house, heard them, and next day he reported them to Mr. Holden, who sent for them at once to come to the office, and to their surprise, he paid them off and told them to leave the place immediately.
One peculiarity about Holden was, that he would not employ an Irishman on any terms. He seemed to have a deep seated hatred of that nationality. He was a perfect gentleman, and treated all well who did their duty, and if they did not, he would soon pay them off. If he approached a gang of workmen and found some of them resting, he would go and sit down by them if they sat still until he came to them, but if they got up and went to work at his approach, he would discharge them.
The company hauled the coal out of the tunnels to the bank of the river, about one fourth of a mile, in cars drawn by a mule, on a rail-road made with wooden rails with straps of iron nailed on them. Valentine Taylor was the driver of the mule during the first year. This was the first rail-road in Jackson County. The coal was piled up on the bank of the river where it waited for water sufficient to float it off.
In the spring of 1851, the Walk-ln-the-Water, a new boat that was originally built for a ferry boat, had arrived at St. Louis, and the company chartered her to go up Big Muddy to bring a load of coal. She made her first trip in May, after the Mississippi had risen considerably, so that Muddy was filled with back-water. This boat took her load of coal, also two barges loaded with it, to St. Louis, and the company introduced it to the foundries and gas-works, where it was pronounced to be the best coal west of Pittsburg, and it soon became known to the public.
After the boat had brought her first load of coal, the company purchased her, and then she made regular trips up Muddy one day, loaded during the night, returned next day and unloaded opposite the town of Preston; thus supplying the steamboats with coal, for most of them used only wood before that time.
The coal was boated out every summer at the time of the rising of the Mississippi. The business prospered, but there came a time when for two years the river did not rise high enough for the boat to cross the Fish-trap Shoal, and the coal accumulated on the river bank, while their coal-yard on the Mississippi was empty and their custom lost. They extended their rail-road past the shoal, but the expenses ate up the profits and the work was abandoned, the town deserted and the houses removed. It is now only a farm and is owned by the G. T. M. M. & T. Co.
The Mount Carbon Coal Company was organized and chartered nearly forty
years ago, and they commenced to mine out coal that long ago. They opened a
mine where the coal crops out on the banks of Big Muddy River, at Mt.
Carbon, about half way between the upper and lower fords, or where the hills
come to the river just below the bridge. The present rail-road runs over the
mouth of the old tunnel. There was not any large quantity mined in those
days. Sometimes a flat-boat was loaded and floated down the river. Some of
them would sink on the route, for that kind of navigation was very
dangerous. There is one of them sunk about half a mile below the mines, full
of coal; but it is probably now covered with mud.
The company built a mill of several stories in height on the north bank of the river below where the bridge is now, that was used for the purpose of sawing lumber and grinding corn. It ran for many years. Richard Dudding was boss of the establishment.
After some time, the company quit working the mines and the mill also, and everything was silent and neglected during many years. There were no buildings at Mt. Carbon except the old mill, (which has long since rotted down and disappeared), and the ferryman's house, which was just above the mill. John Minto was ferryman for many years after Dudding had left the place; and, occasionally, Minto dug coal to supply the blacksmiths. The mine was so low that every high water filled it and left mud all over it. After Mr. Minto left the place, Mr. Wilson was ferryman until the bridge was built, when the ferry was no longer needed.
After the Jackson County Coal Company had built their wooden track rail-road, the Mt. Carbon Company procured a charter from the legislature of the state, for a rail-road from Mt. Carbon to the Mississippi River. The Jackson Company then obtained an amendment to the effect that the new road would have to cross the older one at the same grade as the latter road. The two companies, as represented by their respective superintendents, Mr. Holden and Mr. Dudding, were working not very harmoniously, but sometimes contrary to each other; yet the two gentlemen became warm personal friends.
The Mt. Carbon Company thus laid silent and quiet as far as working anything was concerned, for many years, including the whole of the time that the Jackson Company was at work, except the time when the chartered rail-road was to be commenced to save the charter, Dudding had men at work a few days, and in the expressive language of Holden, they "cleared out a turnip patch.”
The old company tried to do nothing more, when sometime about the close of the War of the Rebellion, they sold out to another company, who obtained a new charter under the same corporate name, "Mt. Carbon Coal Company."
With Mr. Henry Fitzhugh as superintendent, they commenced work in earnest. At first, their office was in John Hanson's residence in Murphysboro. They built a saw-mill near the place where the mill is at present. They set up the engine that is at No. 2 shaft, and ran a slope, commencing under the old county road. The engine hauled coal up an inclined plane. The rail-road from Mt. Carbon to Grand Tower was commenced and pushed through vigorously. The foundry and machine shop were built, and a small steamer came up the river bringing machinery and other heavy freight; but much of their machinery was brought by rail-road to Carbondale, and from thence hauled on wagons to its destination.
As soon as the rail-road was completed, they began to ship off coal to Grand Tower to supply boats, and to send in barges to St. Louis and other places. During the time they had sunk several shafts. Two that were sunk in the Hat north-east of the depot, could not be worked, because there was so much water and the roof was too thin and covered with quicksand, therefore they were both abandoned.
A shaft was sunk south of these in the edge of the hills, called No. 1 shaft, and a rail-road track was laid to it. No. 2 shaft was sunk near the slope, so that the same engine could hoist from both.
During this time, the row of houses between the depot and the bridge was built, also nearly fifty dwellings in the flat on the north side of the river. Houses and shanties began to accumulate on the hills; miners came flocking in. It was but a short time before there was a large population of miners, and money was plenty in the country. Especially did Murphysboro profit by it, and began to wake up from a long sleep and grow into city-like proportions; but, with its growth and prosperity, it also became vain, and obtained a city charter, including the Mt. Carbon works in the city limits. This arrangement displeased the company, because they did not want to pay city taxes, after having furnished the money that had built the city; so the city and the company pulled contrary to each other for some time.
The company had laid out the fiat north of the river into lots, as an addition to Murphysboro, but they afterwards vacated the plat, and for a time talked of removing the houses. They did indeed build fifty houses for the miners, on the highest ridge at Mt. Carbon. Afterwards, the city charter was so modified as to exclude all south of the river, thus leaving out all the works and buildings of the company except those in the flat.
Wishing to ship coal by the Illinois Central Rail Road as well as by the river, the company extended their rail-road to Carbondale, and there formed a junction with that road. They next built two iron furnaces at Grand Tower. About this time the company obtained a new charter under the title of the "Grand Tower Mining, Manufacturing and Transportation Company" The rail-road, which had heretofore been called "Mt. Carbon Rail Road," was afterwards called "Grand Tower and Carbondale Rail Road."
Mr. Fitzhugh died during the first year, and was succeeded by Mr. A. C. Bryden, after him Mr. H. V. Oliphant had that office; since his death, Mr. Williamson, the present superintendent, controls the affairs of the company.
The company have been much troubled with miner's strikes; which sometimes lasted for several months at a time. At one time, during a prolonged strike, they brought coal from Cartersville, Williamson County, Illinois, to supply boats at Grand Tower; and from Brazil, Indiana, to supply the iron furnaces. At another time, after the men had held out on a strike for a long time, the company sent for fifty colored miners and set them to work. They then discharged nineteen of the strikers, and the rest soon went to work again, to prevent their places from being taken by the colored men.
The company became involved in a $200,000.00 law-suit, and their works went into the hands of trustees, but the work was continued.
During this time they had sunk shaft No. 3, half a mile from the station, and ran a rail-road track to it.
This company having bought the land that had belonged to the Jackson County Coal Company, proceeded to make use of it. The site of Dorchester was made into a farm; the fifty houses on the hill are on that land; so also is No. 3 shaft.
This company has been much troubled with fires. First, the saw-mill was burned, and when it was rebuilt, the precaution was taken to place the mill and the boiler at some distance from each other. The engineer's office at Grand Tower was burned with most of their plats and drawings. No. 1 shaft suffered a similar fate, destroying the works on the top and ruining the hoisting engine. The shaft was never used again. The rail-road bridge across Big Muddy near Sand Ridge was consumed, but immediately rebuilt. Nearly all the air-shafts have been burned at times, injuring the ventilation in the mines for a time. The station-house and store, which were in the same building, were destroyed, and they were rebuilt separately.
A tunnel was opened west of the first opening, but it was not worked much for several years. It has been used more recently.
When the panic of 1873 came on, the work was nearly all stopped, miners left for other places. No. 2 shaft only was worked, and that only two or three days in a week. This state of things continued or grew worse for several years. In the spring of 1876, Big Muddy rose so much higher than usual that No. 2 shaft was filled with water, and it took a long time to pump it out. The iron furnaces cooled, one of them collapsed; very few boats were running on the Mississippi, therefore there was not much demand for coal, and for a while only the tunnel was worked. Most of the large crowd of miners that used to be there were gone. The houses on "Fiddler's Ridge," which once had formed a long street, are most of them taken away. Thus the large business at Mt. Carbon almost came to a stand.
In 1880, business began to revive. The company erected a long row of coke-ovens on the ground on which Holden stored his coal thirty years before. No. 3 shaft which had been unused so long, was again alive with miners, and the subterranean passages once more reverbarate with the sound of the pick and the shout of the mule-driver. The houses are inhabited, and prosperity is returning.
In the year 1673, seven Frenchmen, in two birch-bark canoes, started from
Green Bay, and went down Fox River, then down Wisconsin River, and on the
17th of June entered the Mississippi. The swift current swept them rapidly
down, past the pictured rocks at the mouth of the Illinois River, then past
the Devil's Oven and the “dangerous” Grand Tower.
This is the first mention of the Grand Tower, which is a tower-like rock rising out of the river near the Missouri shore, and directly opposite to the south end of the sharp ridge called the "Devil's Backbone. This rock is considered dangerous to this day. When the water is high, an eddy starts at a rocky point near the "Tower" and reaches half a mile or more down the river, the outer edge of this eddy where it joins the main current is full of whirlpools. When a floating tree gets into one of these, it stands erect for a moment, then disappears beneath the surging water. Skiffs or other small craft are served in the same manner, and life has thus been lost. The danger to steamboats is that they are careened and turned out of their course, and for the time become uncontrollable.
Sometime in the early settlement of the West, a keel-boat load of emigrants with their goods, was ascending the river. At this point, the unusally broad river is quite narrow, being about three-eighths of a mile in width, and confined between rocky shores, making the current is very swift; the boat could not ascend easily, therefore the emigrants landed to walk past this place; the men to pull the ropes, the women and children to go at their leisure. Suddenly, they were attacked by Indians that had been hidden amongst the rocks. The emigrants were all killed except a boy twelve years old, who hid amongst the rocks, near the place where the iron-works were recently located. On the highest point on the south end of the Devil's Backbone, graves have been found, but whether of Indians or white men is not known. That boy that escaped, after he was grown up, pursued that gang of Indians one by one, until he slew the last one on an island in the river.
Many years ago, Marshall Jenkins settled where the south part of the town is now. After steamboats began to navigate the river, he kept a landing and a wood-yard. The place was known as Grand Tower Landing or Jenkins' Landing. After the death of Jenkins, James Evans married the widow. He built a warehouse and opened a store, and the place was called
Evans' Landing, but it was always known as Grand Tower. Elisha Cochran settled near the south end of the Back-bone. The grave-yard was close to the foot of that hill, between that and Cochran's house. Several other families lived there, and the school house was sometimes used as such.
The location is suitable for a landing. It is a strip of level ground between the river and Walker's Hill, which rises just back of it, having precipitous, rocky sides. This hill is not connected with any other hill, but is entirely surrounded by low land. The Back-bone before mentioned is a sharp, rocky ridge, nearly a mile long, running along the river bank; the southern end being close to the river, and highest; the northern end and the middle leaving a strip of level land between the hill and the river. There is also a narrow strip of level ground between this hill and Walker's Hill, where the two lap past each other. A detached portion of the Back-bone juts out into the river, forming the "Devil's Oven." Nearly a mile north of this is the "Big Hill," which is very high, about four miles long and two miles wide; it is also surrounded by low lands and the river which washes its western base. Its sides are mostly precipitous, at the north end rising perpendicularly one hundred and twenty-five feet. The formation of the whole neighborhood is peculiar, and the impression made on the minds of the early settlers caused them to name so many things after his Satanic Majesty.
When the Mt. Carbon Company built a rail-road from Mt. Carbon to Grand Tower, the land owners at the latter place, Jenkins, Evans and the company, each laid off town lots, and sold them rapidly for a while. Soon a town sprang up as if by magic. All the river front was built up with stores, hotels and other business houses; thus the obscure landing place sprang into a young city at once. Although it is a good location for a town, yet heretofore, there had been almost no communication with Murphysboro or the interior of the county. The only road went through four miles of the muddiest ground that can be imagined, and was absolutely impassible at some seasons of the year. But the rail-road remedied all that in a short time, and made a pass way through at all times of the year.
The company began to ship coal on barges, and also to furnish steamboats with coal. The following: year, the rail-road was extended to Carbondale and connected with the Illinois Central Rail Road; then passengers and freight were landed at Grand Tower for various points along that road, and the town still grew, and extended northward towards the Big Hill, first, by building that part called "Red Town," afterwards by other additions.
The company built two iron furnaces on that side of the Back-bone next to the river, and ran a rail-road track through the middle of the ridge where it is the lowest. Soon another company built a furnace at the southern extremity of the city. This is usually known as the lower furnace. So Grand Tower, with three furnaces, one rail-road, and a regular packet to St. Louis, grew and prospered, until it extended from the lower furnace nearly to the Big Hill, or almost two miles in length. Then came reverses. The lower furnace stopped for a long time, then fired up and continued in operation for a season only to stop again. It remained cold and silent for many years. The upper furnaces met with accidents. Sometimes one of them would fall to pieces full of melted iron, which hardened as it cooled, and it required a long time afterwards to cut it out before they could begin to repair the furnace. Then the company met with trouble and fell into the hands of Trustees. For a short time but one furnace was in operation, then it too became silent and deserted. The company almost quit shipping coal, and everything became dull. Some of the merchants left the town and removed to other places. The town had passed its period of prosperity; for, like Mt. Carbon, it was dependent on the company, and when they almost quit working, the business of the towns languished.
The upper furnaces have been dismantled, the costly machinery removed and everything that could be of use taken away, showing the intention of making no more pig-iron at that place.
About the year 1880, business began to revive, and the town began to resume something of its former bustling appearance. There was talk of the lower furnace again being started.
Thirty years ago, a gentleman, looking far into the future, predicted that the iron-ore of Missouri and the coal of Jackson County, Ill. would meet near Grand Tower, and along the river bank would be a long row of iron furnaces. This has been only fulfilled in part; the time is yet to come its entire accomplishment.
The following account of the early settlement of Brownsville, was kindly
furnished by Ben Boone, Esq.
"Brownsville was incorporated by the Legislature held at Kaskaskia in March, 1819. Jessee Griggs, John Ankeny, James S. Dorris, Dr. Matthew Taylor and William D. Ferquay were Trustees. Brownsville was begun to be improved in the fall of 1816, or spring of 1817.
The town had been laid out and some improvements made at that early date.
In 1817 to 1819 it looked town-like. The first settler was Jessee Griggs and
family. Conrod Will resided near the salt-licks, outside of the town site.
In 1817 to '18, a goodly number of persons settled in the town. Those I
recollect were, Peter Kimmel and family, Cyrus F. Kimmel, S. H. Kimmel, A.
W. Kimmel, __ Litchbarger and family, Katharine Schwartz and family. Conrod
Will, S. H. Kimmel, James S. Dorris and James Harrold, all had stores. Lemon
was a hatter, he had a family: Henderson and Fild were saddlers; John Queen,
attorney; W. Taylor and Davis, doctors; Burton and Richard J. Hamilton,
lawyers; Marion Fuller, James Findley, John Lucas, John G. Clark, J. Kunce,
Porter, John Tinnun and David Burkey, were carpenters; Neff, Chamberlain and
Howe, school teachers; Haltborn was a blacksmith, so was Grun. A. M. Jenkins
and his sister, Liza came to town.
This is the history of Brownsville to 1819 or thereabouts."
When Jackson County was organized, Brownsville was the county seat. The town was situated in the south part of section 2, Town 9 South, Range 3 West. The court house was a frame building, and was situated in the middle of the square. The site of the town was on a level ground between Big Muddy River on the south and the hills on the north. A slough runs along the foot of the hills, which is filled with back-water from the river, although the level land is above the usual high water mark. It was a beautiful site for a small town; rather contracted in width, but indefinate in length. Some of the residences were built up the side of the hill and overlooked the town.
Brownsville continued to be a flourishing town until the county seat was removed in 1843. There were several stores around the square. Among the residents there, were John M. Hanson, D. H. Brush, Robert H. Marron, and Dr. James Robarts who are well known to the present residents of the county.
On muster day, election day or court week, the citizens from the country around would go there, not only to attend to the duties of the day and do their trading at the stores, which often consisted of exchanging 'coon skins or venison hams for coffee &c., but, not having the modern means of disseminating news, the newspaper being seldom seen, they met to hear and tell the news. What enjoyment it was to those farmers who would often be for a week at a time without seeing a human face except those of their own families, to meet each other and exchange items of news or tell "yarns." They would have their fun, hut nearly every one would drink, and many get drunk, as a consequence, fighting was often the order of the day. Sometimes Iri Byers and Peter Keifer would meet in a crowd and try who could tell the most unlikely stories. Thus did they amuse themselves like true pioneers.
On the night of the 10th of January, 1843, the court house was discovered to be on fire; the flames spread so rapidly that nothing could be saved. All the books, papers and records were destroyed, except perhaps one or two small books that were not in the court house at the time.
On the 13th of January, 1843, the county commissioners met to make arrangements for the purchasing of new books, and empowered the clerk, D. H. Brush, to purchase such books as were necessary to carry on the county business.
Soon after this, there was a movement among the people of the county to select another place for a county seat, and Murphysboro was located on the first day of August, 1843. Soon after that time the county seat was removed to that place, leaving Brownsville to die. The merchants and business men soon followed the court house, and the old town gradually died a lingering death. During several years the people kept leaving the town; the deserted houses rotted down, the owners of lots were glad to sell at any price, and Richard Worthen bought them cheaply, one after another. In 1853, he owned all Brownsville. Very few houses were left on the ground; some had been removed, many had rotted down and had been burned, so Mr. Worthen burned all the rest except a few for which he had use, to get them out of the way. He made a farm of the town site, and it is now occupied by his descendants. The town has run its race and has ceased to exist.
It might be well to mention here the Indian town at Sand Ridge, that was for many years cotemporary with Brownsville. It was a settlement of the tribe of Kaskaskia Indians. The United States government reserved for them a tract of land two miles in length and half a mile in width, including most of the ridge. Here they had a town, and often met the white men of Brownsville on friendly terms. A joke is told on Robert Worthen like this: that one day while he was passing along the banks of Big Muddy when it was nearly full, near the Indian town, he found a lot Indian children at play. He began to pitch them into the swelling river, one after another, just for fun, knowing that they would swim out. This sport he continued for some time, but the youngsters, not appreciating the joke, made an alarm that brought their mothers to the rescue. The squaws took Bob and rolled him into the river too, and left him to get out as well as he could.
The Kaskaskia tribe decreased in numbers, and left their reservation. They went to the Indian Territory and became incorporated with some other tribe.
According to Mr. Boone's account, in the year 1808, James Davis and
Joseph French with their families, settled the place where Murphysboro is
now. It seems that at some time afterwards, the land became the property of
Dr. John Logan, who lived there many years, and there Gen. John A. Logan was
When the court house at Brownsville was destroyed by fire on the night of the 10th of January, 1843, the people of the county took the legal steps to have the county seat removed to some other place, and commissioners were appointed by the county commissioners' court to select the site of the intended town. Samuel Russell, William C. Murphy and John Cochran were the men that were appointed for that purpose. They reported that "after due examination of several places, a site was chosen, situated in the south-west quarter of Section 4, Town 9 South, Range 2 West, on land belonging to Dr. John Logan." Dr. Logan donated twenty acres for the town plat. The location was made permanent on the first day of August, 1843. The land was laid out into lots and streets with a central square for the use of the county buildings. The county commissioners had the plat recorded and proceeded to sell lots. The town was named after one of the commissioners, Murphy’s Borough, but the name was by common concent joined into one word, the apostrophe and the three last letters dropped, and spelled Murphysboro.
The first court was held in a frame house that was moved there for the purpose. Soon houses began to arise. The county built a court house of brick in the middle of the square. The court room was on the first floor, and the clerks' offices up-stairs.
In the fall of 1845, the court house had been finished, the walls of the Logan House were going up, and the house was completed soon afterwards; but it was only two stories high. Dr. Logan kept hotel in that house until his death which occurred several years afterwards. Brush and Hanson opened a store one block east of the square, but after a while they dissolved partnership and kept separate stores. The town was not long without drinking houses, and that has been its curse ever since.
Of the three commissioners who located the town, William C. Murphy has been dead a long time; Samuel Russell died a few years ago; John Cochran is the only one that lives to see the present growth of the town.
County court was first held in the new town on the 4th day of March, 1844, but probate court was held in November, 1843. From this time until 1850, there was very little improvement; most of the buildings were close around the square; and all, with perhaps two or three exceptions, were within the town plat. The town was surrounded on three sides by fields, and on the south, where the land suddenly drops down to the river bottom, by woods. There were two roads leading to the south part of the county, the principal one crossed the river at Mt. Carbon, either at the ford or ferry; the other road crossed the river at the Fish-trap Shoal, where the Cairo and St. Louis Rail Road crosses.
There was no church or school house in the town at that time, except a log house that stood at the south side of the town, in the edge of the woods, which was used for both church and school purposes.
Murphysboro was a very dull place usually when there was neither court nor election in progress. Circuit Court was only held one week in the spring and one week in the fall, and elections were only once a year; but, at these times the farmers from the whole county would crowd in, and the town would then be lively, yes! very lively — for even at that time there were several "groceries" as they were then called; they were not yet dignified by the name of "saloons, but in them whisky was cheap and abundant; drunkenness and fighting were very common occurrences. It was often the case that during the time that an earnest counselor was making his best effort before a jury, a fight would begin just outside of the court house, which soon became exciting and general; the crowd shouting, the audience in the court room rushing out, even the court and jury peep out through the windows. For a time the counsel pleads in vain; no one hears him as long as the fight continues.
Near the place where the south end of the row of brick buildings east of the court house is now, was a horse-rack; the ground was beaten hollow by the stamping of the beasts. One day during circuit court, after a shower, when the hollow was a pond and several horses standing in it, two men began to fight, their friends on both sides pitched in, and there was a struggling and surging mass of humanity, fighting, rolling and kicking, until the whole pile rolled into the water under the horses; the excited crowd meanwhile cheering or swearing. The dogs that were present could not long remain silent spectators, but soon joined in the fray and did their best. The court house was deserted, the groceries emptied, and confusion reigned. Such a sight; men horses, dogs, torn shirts and mud mixed together.
The town began to receive a new impetus in 1850. x\t that time the Jackson County Coal Company began operations about three-fourths of a mile south of the court house, at the place they called Dorchester; and for the first time the people of Murphysboro knew what sort of people coal miners or colliers were. The company paid out money to their many hands, and most of it found its way to the merchants of whisky sellers of Murphysboro. The town began to prosper, and many new houses were erected.
During the time of the spring court, the Alton Presbytery met at Murphysboro. They held their business meetings in the old log school house, and continued in sessions all the week. Each day, during the recess of court at noon, one of ministers preached in the court room. Rev. Norton of Alton was moderator of the Presbytery. During the same week, Big Muddy River was very high, so that people had to ferry from the hills at Mt. Carbon all the way across the low part of the "flats.” All the high bank where the north end of the bridge now is, was covered deep enough to ferry over. This flood was from headwater running with a strong current.
In 1851, the Mississippi was very high; the highest that was ever known except the rise in 1844 which exceeded this by four feet. This time it backed up the river very high at Mt. Carbon. The Jackson Coal Company boated out their coal with a small steamboat, which continued her trips for nearly two months. This company continued to work for several years, and most of the money that they paid out found its way to town, which began to grow and look more like a business place than it had heretofore.
About the year 1854, Rev. J. Wood, a Presbyterian minister, undertook to persuade the people to build a church in the town, and by great exertions he succeeded during the winter and spring following, so far as to get the frame of a large church built and the roof and siding on, so that the weather would not spoil it; but there it stuck; nobody would help it any farther. Mr. Wood, in disgust, left and went and built a church at Carbondale. The unfinished house in Murphysboro remained in that condition for many years, while saloons prospered and increased in number, but the church was used as a public stable by everyone who rode to town, to hitch their horses in. When the town afterwards became prosperous, the old church was finished off and made into a theatre and beer saloon. It is the same building that was afterwards called "Concert Hall."
In the days when Judge Denning presided at the circuit court, the people would come on Monday morning, and often have to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday before the judge would come to organize the court. He was reported sick at the Logan House. When there was too much noise in court, the judge would tell the sherriff, John Elmore, to have "silence in court,” then Mr. Elmore would go in a quiet manner to the persons that were talking too loud, and whisper to them to keep silence. Whenever a juror, witness or lawyer was wanted, the sherriff called their names at the door, for most of them would be in the "grocery” or close about there. In later times, David Williams kept a grocery just south-east of the court house that was a convenient resort of the thirsty citizens.
In those days, the county court, in selecting a grand jury, on one occasion, said to each other, "Let us have the best men in the county, men of intelligence and honesty on this grand jury." They went over the tax list and selected the best men in the county. When the grand jury met, among other indictments, they found a bill against the county court for the condition in which the jail was kept. That court did not think that they would try that experiment again. At that time, the jail was a small wooden house that stood near the court house.
The first newspaper published in Jackson County was printed at Murphysboro about the year 1854. It was published by Bierer, and was called the “Jackson Democrat.” It flourished for a few months, then fell into the hands of Charley Cummings, who soon ran it into debt and contempt, and abandoned the (enterprise. There it ended.
About these times or sooner, James M. Morgan, Tho's M. Logan and Lindorf Ozborn built the mill at the foot of the hill.
In the spring of 1855, the county sold the swamp lands at public auction at the court house. These lands were given by the United States to the State of Illinois, and by the state to the county, to be sold, the money to be used in draining the land. By this means it was hoped that much good land would be reclaimed and the general health of the people improved. The county needed a new court house about that time. "The money belongs to the county, and, although intended for a special purpose, yet it will do the county more good to build a court house than to dig ditches in the Mississippi bottom. So it was decided to do so, ignoring the rights of purchasers, and most of the swamp land money was used for that purpose soon afterwards. The new court house was built east of the old building, and fronting on Main Street, the old house was not removed until the new building was finished and occupied. The court room is above, and the clerks' offices below. The house has been changed around several times since it was first built; and a few years ago, it was enlarged by the addition of two fire-proof rooms and a third story in a mansard roof, the whole surmounted by a cupola and clock.
When the war came on, Murphysboro, like every other place, became dull, and business came to a stand. The Jackson County Coal Company had long before that time quit mining coal, the mines had been abandoned, the houses at Dorchester deserted, and the steamboat disabled. So nothing was left to make, any trade or business, and the war claimed the attention of all for a few years.
About the time of the end of the war, in 1865, the Mt. Carbon Coal Company began operations at Mt. Carbon. They sank several shafts, and employed a large force of miners and other hands. They built a rail-road from Grand Tower to Mt. Carbon, which was afterwards extended to Carbondale. They went to work on such a large scale that it threw all the works of the Jackson Company into the shade. Murphysboro began to grow and prosper as if by magic. Soon all the old town plat was built up, and additions made, two by John A. and Tho's M. Logan and one by William Logan, afterwards followed by additions by the Logans and others, which were soon built up. The town obtained a city charter, but in doing so, included within the city limits all the works at Mt. Carbon. This displeased the Mt Carbon Company, who had laid off all the flat into town lots, and had built nearly fifty houses on them. But they vacated the plat, and built fifty houses on the hills south of Big Muddy. The corporate limits were afterwards so modified as to exclude all south of the river.
Big Muddy coal soon had such a name that other parties began to buy or lease all the coal lands about Murphysboro. Joseph Gartside sank four shafts north of town, and the Lewis Company one shaft. The Cairo and St. Louis Rail Road (Narrow Gauge,) was constructed from St. Louis to Murphysboro, thus giving an opportunity to all those mines north of town to ship coal directly to St. Louis. During the coal excitement, another rail-road was surveyed to run from Mt. Carbon to Pinckneyville, but it was dropped and nothing more was done about it. The Gartside mines and the Lewis mines gave employment to a large number of men, and thus the city continued to grow and prosper. All the land between the town and the new rail-road was laid off into lots, and some buildings erected before the panic came in 1873, after which, the mines began to slacken their work, the prosperity of the town soon stopped, and the erection of new buildings ceased, except where old ones had been destroyed by fire.
Twice within a few years has the block east of the court house been consumed by fire, both times endangering that building. The block south of the square and the one north of the square have both been burned and the old wooden buildings replaced by brick edifices. The largest mill has also been destroyed and rebuilt.
For many years, the town has had its share of newspapers: the Argus the Era, the Independent and the Tribune. There are now several churches and a fine brick school house as successors to the old log house which has disappeared long ago.
This town, which has been built by the coal interest, came to a stand when that interest was nearly dead. The coal is there in inexhaustible quantities, and will be in demand again some day.
In 1880, business began to revive after seven years of stagnation. The coal companies again commenced to work on a large scale. The Mt. Carbon Company built a long row of coke ovens near their road. The Carbondale Coal and Coke Company, which had been for years mining coal at Carterville, now sank a shaft north of Murphysboro, and built a row of coke ovens north-east of town and named the place "Harrison." They also extended the Carbondale & Shawneetowu Rail Road to Harrison and westward to connect with the Narrow Gauge. Next, they made a rail-road from Harrison to Pinckneyville in Perry County.
The city is now improving rapidly. Several good buildings have been erected recently, including a city hall. Most of the space between the old town and the Narrow Gauge has been tilled up with houses. One street runs northward to the Fair Ground, and other clusters of houses scattered out to the north-west. The city bids fair to still increase for some time to come.
Upon examination of old records, the following item was found.
“Oct. 11th, 1852. About this time the Illinois Central Rail Road was commenced, and some persons laid off a town in Section 21, Town 9 South, Range 1 West, and on the rail-road, and called it “Carbondale.”
The town was owned by a company of a dozen persons, but the deeds to all the lots were signed by John Dougherty and wife. The surveying was done by William Richart, who was county surveyor at that time.
The first public sale of lots, was about the 4th day of January, 1853. It was very cold weather at the time; still a great many persons attended the sale. When the terms of the sale were read, they included a condition that every deed was to contain a provision to the effect, that no intoxicating liquors should be sold on any lot, on penalty of the forfeiture of said lot to the inhabitants of the town for the use of schools. Several persons who had come with the express purpose of purchasing a lot on winch to set up a drinking shop, went away disgusted when they heard the terms. The sale proceeded however without them, selling the even-numbered lots, and reserving the odd-numbered lots for private sale. The public sale was not completed that day, but on the 12th day of
April, the remainder of the even-numbered in-lots were sold.
Mr. J. B. Richart was the first resident of the town; he lived where R. Romig now resides, on the hill south of the south-west corner of the square. Asgill Conner built a house on the north side of Main Street, about fifteen rods west of the square, and soon occupied it. Col. D. H. Brush had a store in the small log house that is now used by him as an office. It has since been removed, for at first it stood east of the alley, where the brick building is now. Alfred Singleton built a house where the north end of Chapman's block is, then sold it and built a hotel where Brunn's buildings are. John Dunn built a log house on the north side of Main Street, about fifteen rods east of the square, and Edward Diveley built a house just east of the alley, where James Scurlock's brick building is. Dr. Richart built a house on what has been since known as the Storer property. D. H. Brush built the first mill and soon afterwards sold it to Henry Sanders. (It was burned in 1880.) Estes and Clements had a shop in the east part of the town where they manufactured wheat fans.
Preaching was very irregular for some time at first. Rev. Ingersoll and others preached occasionally in Col. Brush's new store house, at the corner of West and Main Streets; or in a grove of young oaks near to the place where the Presbyterian Church is now; afterwards in the shop of Estes and Clements. The Methodist Episcopal Church was the first church that was erected in the town. It was built in 1856. Miss A. E. Richart taught the first school in a house on the west side of West Street and north side of the alley between South and Walnut Streets. Charles Marten had a boot and shoe shop on the hill where Romig's coffin shop stands. A young doctor hung out his "shingle" at the same place, but the other doctors were about to prosecute him for mal-practice, when he emigrated. John Dunn sold out to Mrs. Jane Brush, who afterwards was married to Dr. Israel Blanchard. She died shortly after that event. A. litigation arose between Dr. Blanchard and Col. Brush, guardian of the heirs of Mrs. Blanchard, which lasted several years. D. N. Hamilton came here and occupied the house just vacated by Blanchard. James Edwards and Isaac Rapp came here and first built a dwelling house for Col. Brush, where he resides at this time. Dr. Richart had a store house built which was afterwards occupied by Dr. Storer. After Storer's death, the old building was removed to make room for the brick block next to Richart and Campbell’s building. James M. Morgan had a store where Pricket's drug-store is; it was afterwards used for the post-office by Rev. Jerome, then the house was removed to make room for a brick structure.
The post-office was first in Brush's store, at the corner of West and Main Streets, and R. R. Brush was post-master. Then it was kept by George Bowyer at the corner of West and Oak Streets, in a house long since removed. After this by James Hampton at the corner of North and East Streets, in a house that has been removed to give way for E. Robertson's brick house. After this in a house now occupied by Wm. Gray, on East Street north of the square; then in the house now used as a butchers shop at the north-east corner of the square; Edward Diveley was post-master at both of the last mentioned places. Rev. William Jerome kept the office in the house that stands two doors east of the M. E. Church when it stood on the site of Pricket's drug-store. That was during the war of the rebellion. It was kept in a small room that stood two doors south of Pricket's; then in the butcher's shop at the north-east corner of the square for the second time; then in a house at the corner east of Gager's hotel, at the north-west corner of the square. The house was burned on Christmas day. 1870. The office what was saved from the fire was kept for a short time in the house next south of the Brush building; then removed to the second room from the corner south of Gager's hotel. At the last four places, R. W. Hamilton was post-master. Next postmaster was John H. Barton, who removed the office to the east side, next door north of Pricket's, and it remained there until the Chapman block was rebuilt after it had been burned, when it was removed to the middle of that block and remains there. Mr. Barton was succeeded by S. Walkor.
The altitude of Carbondale is as follows:
The rail-road track at the Central depot is 150 feet above the level of low water at Cairo; and 408.48 feet above the level of the ocean.
The highest point on West Main Street is 185 feet above low water at Cairo, and 443.48 above the ocean.
The lowest point on East Main Street is 27 feet lower than the rail-road track at the depot.
The ground floor of the Normal University is 439 feet above the level of the ocean.
From the beginning, Carbondale was started on the anti-liquor principles, which has continued to be a characteristic of the town ever since.
At the election for incorporation, the majority were in favor of incorporating. Soon after that, they had an election for trustees; two tickets were put out to be voted for, one in favor of giving license to sell alcoholic liquors in the town, and the other opposed to it. The anti-license ticket was elected by a large majority. The following persons were elected to be the first board of trustees;
James M. Morgan, President.
James M. Campbell,
The board of trustees met and proceeded to pass ordinances for the government of the town. When they came to the prohibition of whisky selling, they had a long discussion on the subject. Four were for prohibition, but J. M. Morgan, whose name had been on both tickets, was in favor of granting license, and argued the cause eloquently, but failed to convince any one, and had to give it up with four steadfast votes against him. That decided the character of the town on the license question for the future.
There was much opposition to the prohibitory law, and some persons tried to evade or defy it, chief among whom was James Hampton. He sold liquor in a house that stood where Elijah Robertson's brick store is, at the north-east corner of the square. He was sued and lost the suit, then took an appeal to the circuit court, but still persisted in selling liquor and was sued again, so that he had several suits on the docket at the same time. When he was beaten in his suits at court, he established what was called a "blind tiger;” it was an arrangement by which a person could buy liquor and pay for it too, without any one seeing who sold it. Hampton thought that then he was safe from prosecution, but they sued him promptly and proved that he was the owner of the establishment, and fined him again. He tried to be elected to be one of the trustees, but his party was defeated worse than ever. He fought the law with a perseverance and determination worthy of a better cause, but finally left town in disgust, after spending many years in the vain attempt to establish a whisky saloon in Carbondale.
On the 4th of July, 1854, the rail-road track having been laid from Cairo to Carbondale, the first train came up from the south to this station. The bridge across Big Muddy was not then built, and the track was laid no farther than here at that time. A large concourse of people, most of whom had never seen a train before, assembled to see the cars come in. The news had been spread abroad some time before, and a large multitude was the result. The freight house had just been finished, and a dinner for all the crowd was set therein. When the train arrived, crowded with people from Cairo and Jonesboro, there was great rejoicing and wonder. Maj. Hampton, marshal of the day, could scarcely keep the people off the track in front of the advancing engine; but there was no accident that day; all passed off peacefully.
Some showers fell that day in places, and some next day in other places, but that was the last rain for over six months, except a few light showers in some localities; but most of "Egypt" was dried up. The corn crop failed, the grass was dried up, the livestock starved and the people nearly so, before another crop could be made. During the fall and winter, the rail-road was completed to the central and northern part of the state, and corn was shipped to the southern part and sold at $2.00 per bushel. That was a high price, but it saved the lives of the people; and some of the stock also.
The year 1855 was remarkable for the heavy crop of wheat, and for a very rainy season in harvest time. Notwithstanding the rain, a large crop of wheat was saved. It was during the Crimean war, when the large wheat-producing regions of Russia were shut up by the war, consequently the price of wheat was higher than usual. Merchants were in Carbondale buying wheat, and the town was filled with farmer's wagons all day long. Money soon came plentiful, and farmers were relieved from the financial pressure that the dry year had brought on them.
The price of wheat reached over $1.00 per bushel on average; at one time reaching $1.25. Before this, the price had been only 50 cent per bushel, and had to be hauled a long distance in wagons and the pay taken in store-goods.
At this time the town was growing rapidly; houses were being erected; town-lots sold high and still went upward. Several persons who owned out-lots, had them subdivided into small lots. At this time, there was but one hotel in town, the "Carbondale Hotel," but J. M. Campbell built a larger one on the same place where the Newell House is now, at the corner of East and Main Streets. It was a large frame house, two and a half stories high, with a wing at the south-east corner. Some years after this, J. T. Powell built a two story brick hotel at the north-west corner of the square and named it "Union House." The name was afterwards changed to "Planters House." Alfred Singleton built a two story frame hotel on East Main Street, which was afterwards called "Hundley House.”
Every Spring, an election for a new Board of Trustees was held, and for many years, national politics was forgotten, and the only question up at these elections was whiskey or anti-whisky. Dr. Blanchard, in a speech attempted to introduce politics into the contest, by saying that the first board of trustees that passed the anti-whiskey ordinance, were ail Black Republicans. James M. Campbell, who was present, became very angry at once, and wanted to whip Blanchard for calling him a Black Republican; "for," said Campbell, "I was born and raised a Democrat, and I am a better Democrat than ever you were, and I don't want you to call me a Black Republican, for I was one of the board that passed the anti-whisky ordinance, and I am for it still." Alfred Singleton remarked to Blanchard that only two out of the five men on the board were Republicans and three were Democrats.” It was with some difficulty that Campbell's friends prevented him from attempting to whip Blanchard on the spot. This transpired in the hotel that stood on the site of the Newell House. At the elections for trustees, the whisky party were defeated every time, and the temperance ticket elected by a large majority. Some of the elections were very exciting. At one of them, a man called J. M. Campbell a liar. Campbell struck him, and a general row was the result, in which Blanchard snapped his pistol among the crowd. He said, "if it had fired, somebody would have been hurt." But order was finally restored, and voting proceeded as usual.
The town continued to grow all this time by the addition of many new buildings including the Presbyterian Church. The population increased until the beginning of the war, when like as at all other places, everything stopped, and nothing was thought of but war. Times were very exciting then, and the under-current of feeling was stirred both with the friends and enemies of the government. Troops came here suddenly, and left a guard at the rail-road bridge on Big Muddy River. The 4th Ill. cavalry came here and camped in the grove that has since been used as a place for public speaking; they also occupied the field adjoining, that now belongs Dr. Allyn. Volunteers were forming companies and marching to join new regiments. Men going off, many of them never to return; women at home weeping for those loved ones that were leaving for the seat of war. Then followed the long dreary time, when the news of battles came, victory or defeat, days of rejoicing and days of sorrow; but peace came at last and the absent ones returned, not all, but what was left of them. Many families were happily reunited; but many women looked in vain, watching every train for those who never came, until despair settled down on them and they looked no more.
After the war was over and the men returned to their homes, the town began to prosper, and buildings began to be put up. The farmers had beg-un to cultivate cotton. At one time there were about a dozen cotton-gins in town, so that in autumn, the place had very much the appearance of a Southern town, for cotton was everywhere, and the bales were piled up on the depot platform ready for shipment. The price was high, money was plenty and business lively.
Sometime during the war the Illinois Central Rail Road Company built a hand-brick passenger house, and the old freight house was afterwards used for freight alone, until April, 1876, when the passenger house was set on fire by lightning and consumed, then a room in the old freight house was again used for a ticket office.
The passenger house was soon rebuilt and occupied.
During the war, the hotel that Campbell built was destroyed by fire, and was not rebuilt for many years, when the large Newell House was reared on the same site, and was opened early in 1874.
The Chapman block on the west side on the square was burned, also two frame houses on Christmas, 1873. It was rebuilt in the summer of 1874.
The first house that was destroyed by fire in this town was the residence of William B. Spiller; it was situated on the south-east corner of lot No. 86, where the alleys cross in the rear of the Gager House. The second fire was Rapp's carpenter shop, and the third was the old Carbondale Hotel.
The Mount Carbon Company had commenced work at Mt. Carbon and made a rail-road from that point to the Mississippi, for the purpose of shipping coal to market. After a few years, they extended their road to Carbon dale and made a' junction with the Illinois Central; then they shipped both coal and pig-iron by that route, and brought iron ore that way also, after they had established furnaces at Grand Tower. Sometime after this, the Carbondale and Shawneetown Rail Road was made from the former place to Marion, and the coal mines at Carterville opened. That coal also had to go via Carbondale, and, although there are not many coal mines close to the town, yet from the quantity of Mt. Carbon and
Carterville coal that is shipped from this station, the town has well earned its name.
About 1868, the Christian Church was built. J. M. Campbell said he was going to spend the summer building churches, as he was not in other business. He and Mr. Robertson and others erected a handsome brick church. The Baptists also had erected a very neat brick church. At the dedication service, the house was full of people, the other, churches, not having any service that day, and a subscription was raised in the congregation, of about $1,700.00, sufficient to pay off the debt that had been contracted in building the church, before they went out of the house. Some time afterwards, the other brunch of the Methodists erected a frame church in the north-west part of the town, opposite what was then General Logan's residence. There are now five churches for the white people and three for the colored folks.
Soon after the first settlement of the town, the people wanted a house in which to have a public school. The citizens met together to consult about it, and it was agreed that it would be too long to wait until they could have a school house built by the district; for the free school law was a new thing, and the district but recently organized; therefore they made up money enough right there to build the house, and set the carpenters to work. In a few weeks the West Side School House was ready for use. Mr. Ed. Babcock taught the first school in the new house, assisted by Miss Ross.
Soon after this, a committee of three preachers, sent by the Alton Presbytery, visited Carbondale as well as other towns along the Illinois Central Rail Road, for the purpose of selecting the most suitable location for a college for Southern Illinois. After talking with citizens of several towns, they were favorably impressed with the liberality and public spirit of the citizens of Carbondale, and concluded that this was the place for the college. The committee then called a meeting of the Alton Presbytery to have them confirm their selection. That body met in the new school house and there received offers from various towns, which were represented by delegations of respectable citizens. Jonesboro and Anna both made liberal offers, but could not agree to have the building on the hill between the two towns. (Rev. W. S. Post was one of the delegates from Jonesboro; he afterwards preached here regularly in the fanning-mill shop, and later, became pastor of the Presbyterian Church.) The Illinois Central Rail Road Company telegraphed to the Presbytery that they would give one thousand acres of land at Odin to have the college at that place. The citizens of Carbondale subscribed lands and money in a liberal manner, which together with the temperance character of the place, most favorably impressed the Presbytery, and that town was selected as the place to build the college. The next question to be settled was, "in what part of the town shall it be built?” Those in favor of locating it in the north-western part, were about to gain their point, when Henry Sanders offered thirty acres of land in the southern part of the town in addition to what he had already given, if they would build it on that plat of ground. That settled it. It was at once decided to accept his offer. They next appointed trustees to carry out the project, and then adjourned.
Soon after this, the East Side School House was erected. Both school houses were built upon out-lots that had been set apart on the town plat for that purpose. At the same time, four building lots were set apart for churches and one out-lot for a cemetery.
The work on the college was begun by laying a good foundation. It was proposed to erect only the rear part of the building to begin with, and that was all that ever was built. Some person made bricks, or at least attempted to do so, but made instead a most miserable failure, and nothing more was done for a year or more. There stood the brick-kiln crumbling back to its original condition near the pond from which it had been dug. The financial panic of 1858 prevented any farther progress for a time. After this, another effort was made, a kiln of brick was burned and the walls built. Then the work went on slowly for a while, but was finished at last. During this time a preparitory department of the college was conducted in J. M. Campbell’s building, but was soon abandoned.
After the college building was finished, W. S. Post taught school in it; but it was not used for a college or high school as it was intended to be used. The public schools becoming too full, the directors instituted a high school and rented a room. At one time it was kept in the Grain House, a building that stood near the passenger house, and Hon. Isaac Clements was principal. The East and West schools were usually called Side Schools. Thus the public schools prospered while the college did not succeed.
During the war, the laud that had been given to build and start the college with, was not available to use in paying off the debts incurred in erecting the building of, therefore it was sold to pay its own debts. Brush and Campbell, who were the principal creditors, were the purchasers.
The building was unused for years, except occasionally, when the school directors used it for a high school, when Mr. Luce taught school therein. The public schools still prospered, and Carbondale was famed for the encouragement given to the cause of education by the citizens thereof.
The Christian denomination wanted to establish a college somewhere in Southern Illinois, and; after examining several towns, finally selected Carbondale as the place. They purchased the college building, and opened their school at once under the management of Rev. Clark Braden, with an accomplished corps of assistant teachers.
This school prospered for several years, and students came from all the counties of Southern Illinois to attend it. A successful normal class was organized which sent out teachers qualified for their work. A paper was published in the interest of the school called the "Herald of Truth." The fame of the college spread abroad, and Carbondale was known as a place of education. The public schools were so full, that the directors could not rent a house large enough to accommodate the high school comfortably, and, several times they made a contract with Mr. Braden to take the high school pupils and give them the benefit of the college along with the regular students. The reputation of the town for temperance and education induced many families to make their home there; thus adding to the good order and prosperity of the place. Such were always a desirable accession to the community.
A convention of the friends of education was called. They met in the college grove. At that meeting, a proposition was made to make an effort to have a bill passed by Legislature for the establishment of a Normal University for Southern Illinois; because the Normal at Bloomington is too far to the north. The bill was finally passed and commissioners appointed to select a suitable location for the institution. Several towns bid more than they could pay in any reasonable time, and it was finally located at Carbon dale, after the city, (for it had just become a city,) had pledged itself to pay $100,000 and several tracts of land, including the college building, which was purchased from the Christian Church for that purpose. Mr. Braden expected to continue to teach in the old building under the authority of the state, until the new building should be completed, but the Governor decided that the Normal school could not be legally taught except in the house that the state would provide for that purpose; therefore the college was c1osed, and the students sent home until the new building was finished. The contract for the erection of the new building; was let to James M. Campbell, and as a part of the payment he took the old college, which he sold to the school district for a public high school.
The foundation of the Normal University building was laid. The ceremony of laying the corner stone was attended by a large concourse of the Masonic order. When the first story had been built, and the workmen were hoisting joists in the centre of the building, they fell on J. M. Campbell and killed him. That put a stop to all work. The workmen left, business was dead, the town ceased to improve, and the building remained just as it was for a long time, until Mr. Campbell’s estate and his contract with the State of Illinois could be adjusted. After that was all settled, which required a long time, the contract for the completion of the building was let to other parties, and in due time was finished.
On the first day of July, 1874, the Normal University was formally opened. A vast number of people assembled to take a part in the exercises. The opening speech was made by Dr. R. Edwards. After that Gov. Beveridge made an address to the Trustees and Faculty, and presented the keys to Dr. Robert Allyn, the Principal, who then made a lengthy speech on the duty of Teachers. He was followed by addresses from several others.
The institution has been in operation ever since, and knowledge has increased.
In 1869 the town obtained a charter and organized a city government. J. B. Richart, who was the first resident of Carbondale, was also the first Mayor of the city. The charter contained a clause prohibiting the granting of license to «ell intoxicating liquor's, without a vote of the people in favor of that policy. A few years after the charter was obtained, a direct vote was taken on that subject, and the temperance party gained it two to one. In 1873, the city adopted the “General Incorporation Act” instead of the original charter.
The east side school house has been enlarged to accommodate the colored people who constitute about one-fifth of the population. In 1881, there were 442 colored, and 1774 white persons.
The population for the last nine years (not including students whose homes were elsewhere,) was as follows:
In 1872—1600. In 1877—2014.
In 1873—1648. In 1878—2029.
In 1874—1785. 1879 not counted.
In 1875—1878. In 1880—2102.
In 1876—1985. In 1881—2216.
Although the “Normal" debt lies heavy upon the citizens, yet the educational interests and the absence of saloons are the chief sources of the prosperity of the city and will ultimately release it from the burden. These characteristics are the chief glory and honor of this young city; may it long continue so.
Jackson County ILGenWeb Copyright
Design by Templates in Time