The town of Ava is located in the north-eastern part of Jackson County, on the line of the Mobile & Ohio R. R., fourteen miles from Murphysboro, 75 miles by rail from St. Louis and 76 miles from Cairo.
It is situated in the heart of a good agricultural district, containing much rich arable land.
Wheat raising is one of the leading interests in the section and the two flour mills operated at this point find the local supply amply sufficient for their requirements.
The country is rich in natural grasses and clovers and affords every opportunity for the successful prosecution of the dairy industry, which as yet in this district is in its infancy, there being but one small creamery here in operation.
There are two mills with an aggregate daily capacity of 260 barrels of flour, two private banks, lumber yards, harness and saddle-makers shops. implement dealers, blacksmith shops, stores of all kinds such as are met with in towns of like size, an enterprising little weekly paper and a full complement of professional men, physicians, lawyers and dentist.
The town has recently had an unusual experience out of which however it has come unscathed; it was discovered that after a supposed existence as a town of some thirty or forty years, it had never been incorporated. An election was at once held and the sense of the community pronouncing strongly in favor of organization, steps were taken to secure a town charter which was accomplished in the early part of August this year. Town officers were speedily elected and ordinances adopted and while outwardly no difference is perceptible, Ava now rests contentedly in the knowledge that her corporate existence is no longer merely a belief but has an active reality.
For a town of her size Ava is splendidly provided with churches; each of the denominations represented, Catholic, Free Baptist, Missionary Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian, have their own places of worship.
There is a good school with staff of five compettent teachers.
The population according to the last census was 1000 souls. They are a quiet, industrious, thrifty people who recognize that it is not what a man makes but what he saves that brings a sure measure of prosperity.
HUSBAND & RUSSELL, Millers. — The leading brands of this house "Queen of Ava" and "White Rose" are favorably known over a wide territory. The mill was started in 1877 and is equipped with roller process driven by a 40 horse engine. There is one run of burrs for grinding corn meal, daily capacity 100 bushels. The capacity of the mill proper is sixty barrels of flour, that of the elevator four thousand bushels wheat and the mill has storage for some three hundred barrels of flour. Between the mill and cooper shop five persons find employment under the direct superintendence of Mr. F. M. Russeil, one of the proprietors. Mr. Russell is a practical miller, an excellent judge of wheat and knows how to get the best results out of the grain, the workmen and the machinery.
HUSBAND & RUSSELL, General Merchants, Bankers. — This famous house was established in 1874, the co-partnership consisting of Mr. J. Husband, Mr. F. M. Russell and Mr. W. C. Russell. They carry a general stock, dry goods, groceries, hats, caps, boots and shoes, clothing, furnishings, notions, hardware, queensware, glassware, furniture, harness and saddlery. People maintain that they get more pleasure and can practice better economy by dealing with Husband & Russell than at any other store within a wide radius. Five years after the business was established a banking department was added, which has undoubtedly been of the greatest convenience to the community. A regular banking business is carried on, deposits are received either on time or payable on demand, collections are undertaken, drafts issued, exchanges bought and sold and loans made. The members of the firm are men of pronounced and recognized ability who conduct every branch of their business upon legitimate and conservative lines.
WM. DIVERS & CO. — One of Ava's prominent enterprises is that carried on by the firm of Wm. Divers & Co. composed of Mr. Wm. Divers and Mr. Murry Dean. The business is located at the west end of the town where it occupies a large double building, probably the most substantial and best arranged of any store building on the M. & O. line; two smaller buildings are used as warehouses for furniture, stoves and similar goods. They deal in groceries, provisions, dry goods, clothing, shoes, hats and caps, hardware, tools, queensware, woodenware, tinware, stoves, ranges and furniture. Mr. Divers is an experienced buyer, enjoys extensive connections among the wholesale houses and with the ample resources behind the firm is enabled to secure goods upon the best possible terms of which the customer gets full advantage. Mr. Divers, who manages the business, is a genuine hustler and sets a splendid example to his salesmen. No matter how rushing the trade each customer is greeted with a cheery smile and a courteous enquiry, assuring them that their wants will be attended to and every effort made to give prompt service.
ST. JAMES HOTEL. — A very home-like hotel is the St. James of Ava. It caters in efficient manner to the wants of the travelling public, has pleasant rooms, keeps a liberal table and provides for the wants of commercial men with good sample rooms. The hotel is located close to the depot and within easy reach of the centre of the town; a well appointed livery stable is in connection. Transient rates are reasonable and special terms are offered by the week. The proprietor, Mrs. Mary E. Henson, is thoroughly experienced in hotel management and knows how to provide for the comfort of her guests in every particular.
"THE AVA ADVERTISER," Hugh Overstreet, Publisher. — The newspaper, which forms the greatest factor in our modern development, reflects an influence distinctly traceable even in the smaller communities. It is therefore a matter upon which a town may congratulate itself when its local journal is in the hands of public spirited, clean, capable men and where this is the case they should take pride in according it their hearty unanimous support. The Ava "Advertiser" is a paper that comes easily under this heading and we are glad to note that it seems to have the right-of-way into every part of the district. The paper was established seven years ago, but has only been under its present management since 1892; it is a four-page, seven columns, half patent, published weekly: in politics it is strongly democratic. An intelligent digest of important happenings at home and abroad is always given, with clean practical editorials upon questions of the day, along with a careful summary of items of more local interest. Mr. Hugh Overstreet the proprietor and editor, spent several years in Montana where he was connected with a newspaper, which accounts to some extent for his sturdy independence and freedom of thought, both western characteristics.
Extracted 24 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from Historical and Descriptive Review of Illinois, Volume 1, page 90.
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