Murphysboro' is located upon the Big Muddy River and occupies a position near the centre of Jackson County of which it is the judicial seat; it is 95 miles by rail from St. Louis and is 57 miles north of Cairo, the extreme southern point of the State. It has been not inaptly called the Chicago of Southern Illinois and enjoys a commercial prominence, due in a large measure to its natural advantages as the centre of an important coal mining district.
Agriculture, the older sister of commerce, has as many followers in Jackson County as in other sections of the fertile land of Egypt, but while the shipments of her products form an item of considerable value in the city's trade returns, they are of minor importance in comparison with the volume of the coal production. Within a two mile radius from the court house there are at least nine shafts in active operation furnishing in various ways employment to between a thousand and twelve hundred men and having an aggregate daily output of four thousand tons. The industry has been carried on for over thirty years and judging from the coal now in sight, in eight and nine foot veins, it is estimated that the same average of production can be kept up for fifty years to come. She enjoys good railroad facilities; the first road touching at this point was the old Grand Tower and Carbondale, now known as the Chicago and Texas Railway. This line which connects with the Illinois Central at Carbondale and at Cape Girardeau with southern systems, was built for the purpose of developing the mining interest of this section.
The Mobile & Ohio passes through the city and has shops located here in which some three hundred men are employed and the St. Louis, Alton & Terre Haute has a tap connecting with its main line at Harrison.
With the development of her mining resources Murphysboro has grown very rapidly and in the last five or six years has more than doubled her population, which now numbers 7,000, according to a census taken not long since by the city authorities.
It must not be inferred however the city relies entirely on the coal mining industry; she has two flour mills; there was a third mill unfortunately destroyed by fire in the early part of this year.
There is a canning factory which runs day and night during the season, consuming about 800 bushels of tomatoes or other vegetables every twelve hours; this factory employs from 150 to 200 hands.
There is a brewery with a daily capacity of 100 barrels, connected with which is an artificial ice-plant.
There is a good foundry devoted principally to the construction of mine machinery and mining plants; a large cooper-shop where flour, fruit and vegetable barrels are manufactured; planing mill, machine and wagon shop and the promise of a threshing machine factory in the near future; besides these there are of course the usual blacksmith and carpenter shops and minor trades incidental to every community.
The surrounding country being well covered with oak, poplar, walnut, locust and other marketable woods, the shipments of timber form another important feature in the commerce of the town.
Murphysboro has two national banks, each doing business with $50,000 capital and showing oy their recent statement a considerable surplus, for the comparatively short period they have been in existence; a Saving's Bank has lately been organized, as also two local Building and Loan Associations.
There are such usual retail interest as would be found in any city of like size in the hands of a thrifty class of merchants who conduct their enterprises on sound principles of business prudence.
There are two newspapers, the “Jackson County Era" (Republican) and "The Murphysboro Independent," (Democrat) each of which publish both daily and weekly issues; and in addition to these there is also a live job printing office.
There are two good hotels and several smaller ones, an Opera House seating 1,500 persons and the Apollo Hall of somewhat less capacity.
Church denominations are well represented, most of the churches having a good membership and all are located in their own buildings, several of which are very handsome structures; there are Baptist, Catholic, Christian, Free Will Baptist, German Lutheran, Lutheran, Methodist Episcopal, M. E. South, Presbyterian and three colored churches.
In educational facilities the city is equally well off. There are two public schools, one requiring a staff of twelve teachers, while the smaller has a teaching force of seven; in addition to these there are two parochial schools and a school for colored children. The aggregate number of scholars is about twelve hundred.
Fraternal, beneficent and insurance orders have a large following and there are many lodges in a flourishing prosperous condition. The leading orders represented are Masonic, with Royal Arch Chapter, I. O. O. F., A. O. U. W., K. of P. including Uniform Rank, K. of H., K. & L. of H., G. A. R., Sons of Veterans, Forresters, C. K. of Ill., B. of L. E. and B. of R. T.
The city now covers about twelve hundred acres, and is well laid out; the streets although not yet brought to a uniform grade are generally in good order, although there are about forty miles of streets and sidewalks, many of the latter being laid in granitoid or stone.
At present a private enterprise supplies the town with water and electric lighting facilities. For manufacturing, municipal and general purposes about 1,500,000 gallons are consumed daily, but the pumps which draw the water from the Big Muddy have a capacity of at least 300,000 gallons over the amount. The water is taken directly into filters of improved construction and is then stored in a water tower 150 feet high, 15 feet in diameter which furnishes sufficient pressure to raise the water to any required height in any part of the town. There are fifty-six 2000 candle power arc lights distributed over the town and about fourteen hundred incandescent lamps, requiring a circuit of about ten miles.
The Murphysboro Street Railway is at present operating a horse car line along the main street and it is contemplated in the near future to put in a greatly extended electric service for which they have already obtained their franchise.
There is an efficient Fire Department comprising two companies, which is located in the City Hall a substantial two story building on West Walnut Street.
There are three recreation parks, the Logan, (named after General John A. Logan, who was a citizen of tills town), the Willis and the Turner; these are private property but are at the service of the community for all legitimate purposes.
Active steps are now being taken to establish in Murphysboro a Home for aged and dependent miners or their widows and orphans, which movement was originated in this city by a small body lately incorporated as the Illinois Mine Workers' Association. There are few of the trades or industrial pursuits that do not have such a Home as this for their disabled members or dependents in one or more states, but hitherto nothing has been attempted in this line for the mine workers, large class though they be and by the exigencies of their following particularly in need of something of the kind. To Murphy sboio therefore will redound the credit of having established the first Miners' Home in the world! Soon after these words are written the Illinois Mine Workers are to hold a reunion in this place, on the termination of which it is intended that the corner-stone of the building will be laid. The construction of this edifice, which will be a large one, will undoubtedly give a strong impetus to the trade of the locality, while the expenditure necessary for the maintenance of the Home after it is in use will be of the utmost commercial importance to the town.
Murphysboro has suffered to some extent from the late labor disturbances, both from the interruption of railroad traffic and the cessation of the mining industry, but as soon as these were settled having counted her losses she set herself with stern determination to repair the breach and rebuild her wall upon the firm commercial foundation which remained unshaken and unharmed.
Her past growth has been the result of natural resources developed by local influence, her prosperity was achieved as a result of home endeavor, but more than one recent transaction culminating in the investment of outside capital shows that attention has been drawn from other parts and other states, which will undoubtedly yield an influence tending to bring about a new era of progress and commercial growth. With railroad facilities that leave little to be desired, abundance of good cheap fuel, plenty of timber and water for manufacturing purposes she offers a desirable location and excellent opportunities for investment and will lend all possible aid to every industrial or mercantile enterprise that is seeking an advantageous field for the scope of its operations.
ALEXANDER BROS. FOUNDRY. — Mechanical industries naturally form a leading interest in this mining centre and to their development the foundry of Alexander Bros, has probably contributed the largest share. The firm in question has during the last twenty-five or thirty years built up a buslness of great importance and become favorably known in connection with all kinds of machine making, founding and the execution of general engineering work. The foundry covers an area of considerable extent and is well planned so as to afford economy of space with convenience of operation; the equipment in every department is complete and adapted to the speedy fulfilment of all orders. As principal lines Messrs. Alexander Bros. manufacture engines, mine cars, hoisting cages, mine castings and the Murray automatic hoisting cage. Repairs of all kinds of machinery, light or heavy work, also come within the scope of their operations, and drawings, specifications and estimates are prepared for the construction of complete equipments for mining or other plants. The whole business, ably managed by Messrs. James and Walter Alexander in person, is in a flourishing condition and the foundry with its staff of twenty-five hands is one of the busiest industrial establishments in the city of Murphysboro.
C. M. LINGLE, Job Printer. — Whatever may be the ultimate object of any kind of printed matter it cannot but be aided by the impression its appearance conveys to the reader. Good clean type and hitch-classed press work combined with an intelligent conception of the principles involved, produce the kind of printing that bring results no matter for what purpose it is used. In Murphysboro work of this character is being daily turned out from the press-room of Mr. C. M. Lingle. A native of Randolph County, he learned his trade at Anna and has made the art preservative his lifework. He carries on a general line of job, commercial and legal printing and though only established in business in the town for less than a year has already worked up a splendid trade. His establishment is well equipped, not very large but at the same time capable of turning out much good work; the machinery is run by a hydraulic motor. Mr. Lingle is a student of all matters pertaining to typography and through the leading journals keeps hlmself fully informed of the most recent developments in the art of printing; he gives much of his attention to color work in which his artistic tastes aided by diligent research enables him to produce some very beautiful results. He was for some years out west where he gained a good deal of experience in printing matters as well as in the general go-ahead enterprising principles of the "wild and woolly.” He is a comparatively young man, the best part of his career is yet to come and from the spirit already manifested it will assuredly be one of success.
CLAY & WILLANS, Manufacturers of Flour, Meal and Feed. — This active little mill, which has been running for over forty years, has recently come into the hands of its present proprietors, C. H. Clay and G. Willans. The facilities of the mill have been increased with the growth of its business, the old system of burrs discarded and full roller process driven by a sixty horse power engine been put in. The elevator, located at the side of the M. & O. tracks, has a storage capacity of ten thousand bushels while the mill proper can warehouse four hundred bushels of flour. The daily output is about fifty barrels, the principal brands being "Magnolia" "Kitchen Queen” and "Big C," the first named having been Mr. Clay's leading brand when he was operating the Jackson County Mill, recently burned down. Besides their staple product Messrs. Clay and Willans are manufacturers of meal and feed as well as dealers in hay, grain, etc. They enjoy an eminent reputation for the line quality of their manufactures and their plant and force of nine men are kept very busy in meeting the heavy demand made upon its productive capacity.
EGYPTIAN BOTTLING WORKS, R. T. Hayes, Proprietor. — This is a recent addition to the manufacturing interests of the town but has already taken a prominent place in its special line of trade. The equipment of the works is entirely new and comprises an improved carbonating system of the modern style; the machinery is operated by a six horse steam engine and has a capacity of three hundred dozen soda and twenty barrels bottled beer. The principal lines of manufacture are soda water and ciders in different flavors and varieties, Henk's Waukesha Mineral Water, and the works have the agency for Excelsior Pilsener beer, which they bottle for the local trade; the working force consisting of four persons Mr. Hayes learned his business under his father, Ed. Hayes, who operated the Murphysboro Bottling Works twenty years. The Egyptian Bottling Works have a splendid connection — two wagons are required for local orders and a large shipping trade is enjoyed.
P. M. POST, City Drug Store, S. E. Cor. Main and Walnut Streets. — This is the oldest pharmacy in Murphysboro; formerly it was conducted as a copartnership, but for the last twenty years has been carried on by Mr. Post as sole proprietor. The stock carried is unusually extensive, it embraces a full line of pure drugs and chemicals, standard proprietary medicines and popular patent remedies, while the usual assortment of goods known as druggists' sundries such as toilet articles, soaps, perfumes, lotions, cigars and fancy stationery have been carefully selected and form an attractive feature of the place. Mr. Post also deals in school and church books and supplies, surgical instruments, paints, oils, varnishes and wall-paper. He himself is a registered pharmacist and two registered assistants are employed in the store. Mr. Post's long and varied experience has qualified him in no ordinary degree, by reason of which he commands the confidence of a large patronage among the medical fraternity as well as of the general public.
E. J. STEWART, Photographer. — This gallery has been in the hands of the present proprietor for thirteen years and existed seven years previous to his acquiring possession. Mr. Stewart is an old-time photographer who knows his business from the ground up. He confines himself almost entirely to gallery portraiture in which line he is justly celebrated. The gallery is conveniently located not far from the centre of the town, and an active patronage is enjoyed which keeps Mr. Stewart and his two assistants fully occupied; enlargements, crayon work and color work are also branches to which special attention is given.
BIG MUDDY LUMBER COMPANY. — This is an old established business which has been carried on under the present style for the last six years. Up till the beginning of this year the business was owned by the Norman Brothers, but at that date Mr. W. C. Norman sold out his interest to Mr. William Turk who is now joint-proprietor with Mr. J. S. Norman. They deal in hard and soft lumber, sash, doors, blinds, also lime, cement, sewer pipe and tiles. Some idea of the extent of the stock carried may be gathered from the fact that it is distributed over three yards each of a large area, while it keeps three people busy to respond to the wants of the trade. The proprietors are experienced in lumber and can offer their customers valuable inducements in the way of prices and have every facility for the conduct of a prosperous and thriving trade.
MILLHOUSE & SMITH. — This business has been carried on by the above co-partnership for the last five years. For a longtime previous to that was conducted by Mr. C. A. Millhouse. They are manufacturers of light and heavy harness for all purposes and of saddles and saddlery goods and deal generally in all kinds of horse furnishing goods. Both proprietors are expert harness makers themselves; Mr. Millhouse has been engaged in the trade here for nearly forty years, having come from Pennsylvania to Murphysboro’ in 1854; Mr. C. F. Smith learned his trade in this town. They employ an average force of three men in the shop, which is well provided with the best tools; an active and profitable business is enjoyed, their custom being drawn from all parts of Jackson County. The house enjoys a splendid reputation for the durability of its goods, the material and workmanship are equally reliable. The proprietors are well known in business and social circles. Mr. Millhouse is treasurer of the local branch of the K. of H.
“THE MURPHYSBORO INDEPENDENT,” J. J. Penny, Publisher. — Ink has been called one of the greatest agents of civilization and the quantity of ink a people consume is a barometer of their enlightenment. The "Independent" was established twenty-one years ago; originally it was published as a weekly only, but about three years ago Lieut. Governor Gill, who was proprietor, instituted the daily issue. The "Dally Independent” is a seven column folio, half-patent and contains a careful summary of local items and Southern Illinois news together with matters of general interest and selected articles upon a variety of topics; the weekly edition is a six-column quarto and is almost exclusively occupied with home, or at least, "Egyptian" happenings. In the matter of equipment eight men are employed and there are three presses, two of them for job work, driven by a 5 h. p. hydraulic motor. The present proprietor Mr. J. J. Penny is a native of Pinckneyville in the neighboring county of Perry; he is a practical printer by profession and an editor and able business manager by training. It is not long since he assumed control but he has fully demonstrated his qualifications in the most convincing manner; he maintains the traditions of the paper and retains the good will of its large numbers of life-long friends.
R. A. GLENN, Music Store. — In our day of liberal education those business interests which are connected with the arts, flourish in every community. Mr. R. A. Glenn has been established in the musical instrument line for twelve years and for the last four years upon the present basis. He carries a fine line of pianos, Decker Bros., Camp & Co., Schubert and Estey, also the Estey & Camp Chicago Cottage and Edna & Co. organs, music books, sheet music, musical instruments. He does business either upon cash or installment basis, also renting and repairs. Mr. Glenn has had long experience which added to his musical tastes and knowledge give him exceptional facilities for the conduct of the business. He is a native of North Carolina, of Scotch descent and a gentleman of energy and ability who has reared his enterprise upon a profitable and permanent basis.
T. B. THOMAS, Dry Goods, Notions, Cloaks, Boots and Shoes. — This business was established in 1886 and is located in a commodious double building on the north side of the square. Mr. Thomas carries a full line of dry goods, dress patterns, white goods, laces and embroideries, hosiery, corsets, gloves, ribbons, cloaks and wraps and ladies furnishings of every description; also threads, silks, wools and has the exclusive agency of Butterick's patterns. A separate department is devoted to boots and shoes. Mr. Thomas is a Welshman by birth and a resident in Murphysboro since 1870 and having become thoroughly identified with the best interests of the community, is recognized as a representative citizen. He is Vice-President of the Big Muddy Coal Co. at De Soto.
J. W. STRAUGHAN, Watchmaker and Jeweler. — The amount of trade which Mr. Straughan has worked up since he established himself in business here in August last is at once a testimony to the excellent judgment which led him to select Murphysboro as a business location and to his own qualifications as an expert jeweler. A native of the Blue Grass state, he learned his trade at New Albany, Indiana, and has latterly been carrying on a business at Arkansas City, Ark. He has located himself at 66 West Walnut Street, where he carries a select line of clocks, watches, gold and silver, jewelry, mounted stones, brooch and lace pins, optical goods including a splendid line of gold spectacles, etc. To know just where to get your watch properly repaired is often a difficulty, but Mr. Straughan can fix it so that it will run on even terms with old Father Time himself. He is an energetic business man, giving prompt attention to all orders entrusted to him and evidently has the faculty of rapidly gaining both customers and friends. He carries a line of society emblems and is himself a member of the K. of P.
DEWITTE & POWELL, Brick Makers. — This business has been in active and prosperous existence six years. The yard is located to the west of the Chicago and Texas tracks outside the city limits. The works proper cover an acre and the firm own many more acres of splendid clay for their purposes. The brick is handmade, repressed rod and the best in this part of the state. The Southern Illinois Mill and the public schools are built of it. Their kiln has a capacity for 160 brick and every other appliance is at hand.
CHAS M. BRADLEY. — Carries on several important lines of business. As an underwriter of both fire and tornado insurance, he has such standard companies as the Aetna, German American and New York Underwriters. He makes a special feature of insuring farm property and issues the best dwelling house policy known. He also deals in farm machinery and farming tools, being agent for Oliver Chilled 's plows, New York Champion rakes, standard makes of wagons and carriages, Gaar-Scott engines and machinery and also windmills and pumps. Mr. B. is also the trusted agent of the American Express Co. His office is in the McKee Block and in the busy daily routine of his affairs he is assisted by his son, G. F. Bradley.
GRAND SOUTHERN HOTEL, Mrs. C. F. Jones, Opposite Era and Post Office, Broad and Locust Streets. — This old established hotel has been known to the public for many years past, but since it came into the hands of the present management it seems to have taken a strong and entirely fresh hold upon public favor. The house has been renewed from cellar to attic and is now nicely fitted up and first-class in its appointments. Some thirty-five bedrooms await the traveller whose comfort will be carefully attended to, all the domestic arrangements being under the personal supervision of Mrs. C. P. Jones, the proprietrix. C. F. Jones, the manager of the hotel, is an energetic fellow who has made friends all his way through life and has always a word of warm welcome to a stranger guest. It is an open secret that he was once a railroad man and he has all the cordial good fellowship and geniality characteristic of the "boys." The location being central, opposite the Post Office and the Era Building commends it strongly to business men, and while it will doubtless receive a liberal patronage we venture to predict that Mr. and Mrs. Jones will be found equal to any demand made upon them.
"JACKSON COUNTY ERA," Burr & Burr, Props. — This paper was established in 1872 and shortly after became the property of Gill J. Burr, who continued until his decease in 1881. It was then acquired by Mr. W. H. Hull and about this time also, Mr. Howard H. Burr, present managing editor, began his connection with it, serving a practical apprenticeship until he became initiated into all the secrets of the chapel. In January 1892, the firm of Burr, Tarpley & Burr became the proprietors. Mr. Tarpley retired after six months and Messrs. Burr & Burr became joint sole owners.
Mr. Bert R. Burr is the managing editor and Mr. Howard Burr, the business manager. They had only been in control of the "Era" eighteen months when they formulated plans for establishing it in a home of its own and in January of this year its removal from the old quarters on the Square to the splendid new building on Broad and Locust Streets was accomplished. The Era Building is the finest newspaper "home" in Southern Illinois and reflects much credit upon the Burrs, who were their own architects. It is a two story brick structure, 24x60 feet. The business office, its entire front of plate glass and interior finished in pressed brick, is to the front on the ground floor; behind this is the press-room, with granitoid floor, a Babcock Country Cylinder newspaper press and three modern job presses, motive power being furnished by a hydraulic six horse engine. Above the pressroom is the compositors' apartment and to the front of that are the editorial sanctums finished like the down-stairs office in pressed brick. The building is furnished with electric lights and water service throughout and its finish in minor details leaves little to be desired. The working force, inclusive of “devil” numbers eleven persons. Daily and weekly issues are published; the former is a seven column folio and the weekly an eight column folio, all home print having circulation of eleven hundred. It is a clean wholesome journal, giving all the interesting news of foreign, national or state importance as well as bright columns of local intelligence and is subservient to no interest except that of the public good of Murphysboro and for Murphysboro from first to last. Carefully following the policy laid down by Mr. Gill J. Burr, who in his time was a leader among Egyptian Republicans, the "Era" adheres, not blindly but intelligently to the tenets of its party and has gained recognition as the foremost Republican paper of Southern Illinois. The proprietors are comparatively young men, Murphysboro boys, born and raised and have many friends among all parties and sects. Mr. Bert R. Burr, who has devoted some part of his time to educational matters is presented as the candidate of the Republican party for the office of County Superintendent.
Extracted 24 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from Historical and Descriptive Review of Illinois, Volume 1, pages 86-89.
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