History of McLeansboro, Hamilton County Written|
(REPRINT: McLeansboro Times Leader - Wednesday, March 27, 1991)
Written by John B. Kinnear
and published in The McLeansboro Times on December 20, 1883
This perhaps may not be as interesting to our younger readers
as it will be for the older ones who have lived here almost three
score and ten years. The once little cast-off hamlet of but a few
souls, who strove hard to frame the county, has grown now to a
place of business, and bids fair to rival her neighboring towns in
We have lived to see it grow in mortality - from what used to
be styled second to no place but that of the darkest and vilest
pit, where the slime of the serpents would pour - to a thriving
temperance town of two thousand. In the place of dram shops and
places of violence that are calculated to ruin our rising
generation, and bring shame of perhaps thousands yet unborn, we
have peering towards the sky six church spires and one from an
institution of learning. It has been said (and I am sorry for it)
that we sent our Representative to the nation's capitol from a
town which had no building of worship. It is true we had none at
that time, but thank God the day is passed when such slurs as that
can be seen and heard the hideous screams and actions of those who
seemed not to regard God or man, there can now be heard the busy
bustle and constant hum of those who are actively engaged in the
care of a business life; and indeed it is difficult to realize the
changes that have taken place in so short a time - what was but a
few years ago almost a waste desert of a place and scarcely ever
visited by anyone but those of the roughest character, unless
business demanded that they should.
In the spring of 1821, by an act of the Legislature, Samuel
Leach, Joel Pace and James Ratcliff were appointed to select a
location for a county seat in Hamilton county. Hamilton had been
struck off from White county only a short time before. This was
done as had been directed, and the place selected was a part of
the farm of Dr. William McLean, who lived in a little log house
near where Peter Carlin now lives. This spot contained twenty
acres, the center being what is now the Public Square, and was
marked by a big black oak tree which stood near where the fire-
proof office now stands. After making their selection, the next
thing was to give a name to the town. After thinking of all the
great cities of Greece and Rome and other countries, they were
still bothered about a name, when some old man came along who had
partaken too freely of what they termed "tanglefoot," and
listening a few minutes raised his head and said: "Boys, I gad,
call it McLeansboro."
After some thought they finally agreed that this should be
the name, and it should be in honor of Dr. McLean, who had sold
the land to the State (or county) for the purpose of establishing
a county seat.
There was at this time no buildings in what was laid off for
the town of McLeansboro, as it only included twenty acres of
ground. There were a few scattering houses in the neighborhood,
but none in town.
April 9, 1821, the Commissions, viz: William Wheeler,
Littlepage Proctor and Townsend Tarleton, advertised to let out
the contract for building a court-house. The county had only been
organized a short time, and what little business that had been
transacted had been done at the house of John Anderson. The
court-house was to fill the following description: It was to be
built of logs hewn on two sides, and was to be sixteen feet
square, covered with boards, put on cabin fashion; was to be eight
feet high, chinked and daubed; have a plank floor, one window (and
this was to be a glass window) consisting of 12 panes of glass,
8x10, and a good plank door, 3 feet wide and 6 feet, 3 inches
Such was the rude construction in which our forefathers met
to hold their court and lay the foundation on which the laws of
our county must stand. On the first day of May the contract was
let for building this log cabin; the contract to be given to the
lowest bidder, which was Benjamin Hood, an old millwright who
lived below Hoodville, and whose name is familiar to many of our
readers. Mr. Hood took the contract of building this house for
$379, which was completed in due time and accepted by the
Commissioners. This was then the finest house in Hamilton county,
and many of the old pioneers would wonder if Hamilton would ever
need any other public buildings, for many of them were a little
out of humor because the Commissioners had been so extravagant in
spending the county funds.
Our community at the time was not altogether a paradise, and
it was only a short time until they began to feel the necessity of
having in their midst a necessary evil in the form of a jail.
This was needed to keep people in, and not to keep people out;
therefore it would necessarily have to be made more secure than
This contract was let in September 1821, to William Hall for
the sum of $780. It was to be completed within one year from
date, which was done and the contract received. Soon afterwards
there was an estray pen built on the north side of the public
square. This was built by Robert Moore, at a cost of $12. Thus
the county had all the public buildings it needed at the time, and
had cost $1,171. There were no other buildings to amount to
anything at this time in the town, but soon there were a few log
cabins erected and they began business in the pioneer style. The
principle article of commerce at that time was whiskey, which
every person dealt in to a greater or less degree. What is now
known as the Public Square and the place where they had the estray
pen, was the place selected for wrestling, fighting, etc., and not
a few times would they come away from there with the marks of
their brutal fists plain to be seen on their faces.
The business of the county did not amount to very much, and
so Jesse C. Lockwood was elected to fill all the offices of the
county except Judge. He was the first postmaster, and at the same
time held the office of County Clerk, Circuit Clerk, Recorder,
Treasurer, Sheriff, Justice of the Peace, and in fact all the
county offices, and then he had not enough to keep him busy half
The matter of education was not entirely neglected, although
the rude manner in which it was conducted in those days would lead
a person to think it might as well have been overlooked entirely.
The first school that was taught here was in an old waste house
(log house about 12 x 14 feet) which stood about where Silas Heard
now lives. This was before such a thing as a plank had ever been
known in Hamilton county, and then the house was protected from
the brute creation by piling rails in the door. There was no
floor in it, and the fire was built in one corner and the smoke
found its escape through a hole in the roof made for that purpose.
In this way our pioneer fathers obtained their little education,
and even Hon. S. S. Marshall, who represented us at Washington so
long, got his start in almost as rude a manner as it above
After this old sheep-pen gave way, there was a little log hut
built near where Mrs. Lockwood lives and this they intended to put
some tone to. So they put in a puncheon floor, and swung a
clapboard door to it. On the back side was a log cut out and a
greased paper place over the hole to transmit light. They had
benches in this, and they were of saplings split open and pins
driven in them for legs. Here the young generation would march in
for about three months out of the year, and when they had learned
to figure to the "single rule of three" they were considered to be
as good scholars as could be found in the country, and the idea of
their going to school any more was though to be preposterous.
When this house was fit for use no longer they built another one
just back of Judge Marshall's barn which served their purpose for
many years. This was built of logs, and very closely resembled
the one above described. Here the young urchins would stick pins,
have spelling matches and get their backs lashed until Esq. Heard
built the old school house, near T. L. Lockhart's at his own
expense. After the Legislature passed a law that free schools
should be maintained, the school bought the property at a cost of
$800, and soon here were two teachers employed, and the old
fashioned way of having sixty or seventy in one of those old
Elementary Spelling Books, was at last about to be done away with.
From that time the schools have been graded. In 1877 the school
board let out the contract for building a new school house which
was to be constructed of brick and was to be paid out of the
district money. The contract was let to the lowest bidder, and
the lucky man was Mr. Hyatt, the father of Mr. A. Hyatt. The
house was built in the summer and fall of 1877, at a cost of
little over $9,000, including fencing, grounds, coal house, etc.
Mr. Leonidas Walker was the first principal who taught in the new
building, having begun his school in the old building and
completed this term in the new building. The next term was taught
by Milton Daily. He held the position only one year when he was
succeeded by LaFayette Howard, who had been the first assistant of
the year before. In the fall of 1880, the board elected a corps
of five teachers, with G. W. Garrison as principal and H. A.
Ingram as superintendent. After teaching one year, they were
superseded by J. P. Stelle as superintendent and S. H. Ward as
principal. In the fall of 1882, Julien L. Frohock was elected
superintendent and J. H. Lane, principal. Frohock having resigned
in the fall of 1883, J. H. Lane was promoted to the
superintendency, and J. B. Kinnear to the high school.
The public building of Hamilton county had gone down to a
great extent and about 1836, the people began to think they needed
a new court house. The first one was built in 1821, and was
afterwards repaired for a new one built in its place. The latter
was a two story log house and was not much of an ornament to the
county at that.
After a great amount of discussion and talk, the County
Commissioners resolved to build a brick court house after the same
plan as the one at Carmi. This would have cost them a great deal,
considering the wealth of the county at that time, and so it was
ordered by the Court, at the March term, in 1830, that the order
for a brick court house be rescinded and that there should be a
court house built on the public square, in McLeansboro, Ill.,
after the following description:
It was to be thirty feet square, set on a good stone
foundation that was to be but 18 inches in the ground, and two
feet above the surface. The building was to be two stories high;
the lower one to be twelve feet in the clear, and the upper one to
be nine feet in the clear. The roof was to be made round, and was
to consist of shingles, which were to be nailed on. On the top
there was to be a cupola, which was to be ten feet high. This
house was to be ceiled with good substantial plank, and the work
was to be done in a workmanlike manner. The cost of this building
is not on record, because the contract was never let out. At the
December term, of 1839, the order for the above house was
rescinded, and now, for the second time, they had agreed to build
a brick house, which was constructed in 1840 and 1841. This
building has been standing for 43 years and now needs repairing
badly - with a new house. The stone that was used for building
the court house was quarried in what is now William Rickord's lot.
The contract was first taken by James Hall, who began the work,
and failing had to give it up. The contract was then given to
Isaac Lasswell, who agreed to build the house for $4500. He gave
bond to the Commissioners for the completion of the house and they
thereby agreed to pay him as the work was going on. This was done
and the house was finished according to contract within one year
from the date and was receiver by the Commissioners.
After the old log jail was getting so that it was considered
unsafe, the County Commissioners gave the contract to James
McGilly and John Murphy to build a rock jail. The exact date and
cost of this we do not know, but the first person locked in it was
a runaway negro. After a day or so he managed by some means to
get a rock loose, and made his escape; thus the new jail was not
widely known for its safety, and a story was circulated over the
country that the negro butted the rock out and then shamed them
for not having made the building more substantial.
This was only use a few years ago when there was an order
made by the Commissioners for a new jail, that was to be
constructed of brick and lined throughout with sheet iron. This
was soon done and the place has proven to be one of safety, and
yet stands as a monument of dark deeds for Hamilton county. The
old jail was torn down last Spring.
On Monday, August 3, 1868, James Lane, A. M. Sturman and L.
L. Moore, County Commissioners, met, and it was ordered by the
Court that they advertise in the St. Louis Republican, Chicago
Times, Cincinnati Enquirer and the Hamilton County Democrat, for
the building of which is now the Fire-proof office. The
advertisement was inserted in the above named papers and on the
ninth day of September the contract was let to the lowest bidder,
that being Rufus F. Stanley, who took the contract to build the
house for $6,594. It was to be 72 feet long, 26 feet wide, and
both upper and lower rooms to be twelve feet high. The material
for the walls was to be burnt brick. The first story was to have
a wall sixteen inches thick and the second story was to be twelve
inches thick. The contract was to be completed by the first of
After the agreement was made for made for Mr. Stanley to
build the office, he was required to give a bond of $13,188, or
double the cost of the building, which was soon done and received
by the County Court, September 9th, 1868.
The work was soon begun and the contract for laying the
foundation was let to John Lane (more commonly known as Stumpy
John) and was completed in due time.
Mr. Stanley was backed and assisted by A. G. Cloud, of our
town, and on the 23rd day of August, 1869, the building was ready
for inspection and the County Board received the same; although it
was not yet fully completed. They received it on the condition
that A. G. Cloud would agree to put all the floors in, according
to contract, and they were to be inspected by Uncomb Graves, and
both parties agreed to accept his judgment on the matter. The
contract was then accepted and the money paid over.
HAMILTON COLLEGE - The first instigation of this institution
was gotten up by John P. Stelle. There had been considerable talk
of establishing a school in Ewing Presbytery, and McLeansboro and
Enfield were the two towns that were competing for it. There had
been about $5,000 subscribed but when the final contest was
questioned, Enfield had raised a little larger subscription than
McLeansboro, and hereby secured the school. After being beaten in
this enterprise, J. P. Stelle suggested the idea that McLeansboro
go ahead and secure a charter, and build up a school of their own,
independent of the Enfield school. After some consideration, this
was agreed upon, and John Coker and J. P. Stelle went to
Harrisburg and secured Prof. W. I. Davis to take hold of the
school, which he did.
John P. Stelle, John Coker, John C. Hall, Judge Crouch and
Judge Marshall were then organized as a Board of Trustees, and in
April, 1875, they obtained a charter from the State. Prof. Davis
was elected president of the school, and Prof. James Leslie as
principal teacher. In a short time there was a commercial
department added to the school, and Prof. J. W. Bradshaw was
elected as principal of that department. The first meeting of the
citizens of Hamilton county for the purpose of taking the
necessary steps to secure the establishment of a high institution
of learning at McLeansboro, met on the second day of March, 1874,
the commit-report. The building was to be constructed of brick,
was to be 40 x 80, and not less than 45 feet from ground to bottom
of cornice. The probable cost was estimated at not less than
$11,000. On this day the citizens determined to name the school
"Hamilton College." J. W. Marshall, A. B. Weldin, John P. Stelle,
Cloyd Crouch and John C. Hall were then chosen as Commissioners,
to make application to the state to be vested with corporate
powers. They at once received their powers from the state.
HAMILTON COLLEGE (continued) - On the thirteenth day of July,
1874, John P. Stelle, John Coker and A. B. Weldin were appointed
as trustees to ascertain on what terms the M. E. Church could be
obtained for school purposes. They made arrangements with the
trustees of the church, and thereby agreed to complete and finish
the building for the use of it for the period of five years. This
being done, Prof. W. I. Davis was employed to take charge of the
school and they opened up at once. The school soon embraced three
departments, viz: Scientific, Teacher's or Normal, and
Commercial. The first diplomas was issued from the Commercial
department. This was on March 2nd, 1876. There were three
granted at the same time and the happy recipients were: Benjamin
F. Gullic, Columbus M. Hall and Arthur T. Secor. After this time
there were quite a number granted from the teacher's department
and two from the scientific department - the first one to Harry
Carpenter and the last one to James B. Tate. The last diploma
that was granted by the College was from the teacher's department
to J. B. Kinnear, July 25th, 1880. At one time here was a fair
prospect for the institution to be one of the leading schools of
Illinois, but repeated failures in the way of obtaining finances
and subscriptions for building a college, soon embarrassed the
people and in July, 1880, all hopes of a school were abandoned.
SECRET SOCIETIES - There was no secret organizations in
McLeansboro until many years after its foundation. The first one,
however was the Masonic Lodge. There had been a Masonic lodge at
Mt. Vernon for some time, and some of the citizens of Hamilton
county belonged to it. In the fall of 1853 they had agreed to
form a lodge of their own, and on the 5th day of October a charter
was granted and they organized Polk No. 137, with only a few
charter members. The lodge was organized by E. B. Ames, Ben L.
Wiley, Isaac R. Diller, J. L. Anderson, H. G. Reynolds, Lorenzo
Rathbone, and a few others. Perhaps the only one of the charter
members who is now living is old Dr. Rathbone (now deceased). For
many years after the fraternity was organized, it grew very
slowly, and at different times was near on the verge of
discontinuance. Some five or six year ago they began to increase
and they now have 58 members and considerable money on hands. The
following are the present officers, viz: J. N. Meader, W. M.; S.
J. Pake, S. W.; Doug Lasater, J. W.; J. R. Siddall, S. D.; J. S.
Hensley, J. D.; A. A. Hyatt, Treasurer; A. M. Wilson, Secretary.
The next permanent secret organization in McLeansboro was the
Odd Fellows. This lodge was organized Oct. 17, 1856, with six
charter members, viz: M. M. Young, Lorenzo Rathbone, Charles
Gilman, John W. Oneal, Chester Carpenter and D. F. Asbury. The
lodge consisted of the above named gentlemen, and the first corps
of officers was selected from their number. The little fraternity
managed to keep together through the harder period of its life,
and believing in the old adage, "that the darkest hour was just
before the day," they still kept themselves bound together in a
brotherhood, and gradually increased in number and wealth; until
they at present have forty members and considerable wealth being
the wealthiest lodge in the county. The present officers are: J.
W. Jones, N. G.; Samuel McNeely, V. G.; C. L. Young, Rec.
Secretary; and A. C. Cully, Permanent Secretary.
The next brotherhood that was organized in McLeansboro was
the K. Of H. Lodge. This was organized Feb. 14, 1878, by W. H.
McCormick, of Beardstown, Ill. There had been a great deal of
talk about establishing this lodge, and through the influence of
Prof. Davis and others they finally accomplished their design, and
organized with sixteen charter members, viz: R. C. Robinson, W.
R. Studebaker, Prof. W. I. Davis, W. C. Shaw, Thomas Sloan, W. B.
Garner, W. R. Daniel, A. J. Baird, Lafe Howard, J. F. Marshall,
Milton Daily, T. L. Lockhart, J. P. Stelle, Arch Faulkner, R. W.
Glenn and A. Longworth. Since that time they have gained many
members and have of course lost some. They at present number 43.
Their first officers were: W. C. Shaw, Dictator; W. R.
Studebaker, Past Dictator; W. I. Davis, Vice Dictator; and R. C.
Robinson, Assistant Dictator. The present officers are: C. M.
Wiseman, Dictator; W. H. Buck, Past Dictator; G. B. Robinson,
Vice-Dictator; and L. J. Hale, Assistant Dictator.
SECRET SOCIETIES (Continued) - There has been some other
organizations that have been let die down. Several temperance
societies have had their rise and fall. The Royal Templar of
Temperance was organized Oct. 28, 1880, by a Mr. Watson, from
Ashley. The first society of the R. T. of T. was instituted and
organized in 1870, at Buffalo, N. Y., by P. A. Ross, S. K. Porter
and M. A. Kinyun, M. D. Since that time their development has
been very rapid and at present they have many active lodges which
are doing a good work. At present the lodge in McLeansboro has 38
members and the officers for the year 1883 were, viz: R. H.
Stanley, S. C.; T. M. Eckley, P. C.; R. A. Silliman, V. C.; Mrs.
Celia A. Harris, Chaplain; Mrs. Jane W. McElvain, Secretary; John
Dewitt, Treasurer; Mrs. W. H. Carne, Guard; and J. C. Carner,
The next fraternity in the town was the K. of P. This lodge
was organized Oct. 17th, 1883, by the Carmi Lodge, with the
following Charter members, viz: C. M. Lyon, J. H. Lane, C. W.
Eudaily, J. C. Edwards, J. W. Jones, H. H. Carpenter, I. H. Webb,
F. A. Harvey, G. W. Hogan, J. M. Lockett, W. T. Pemberton, J. E.
Irvin, R. A. Silliman, G. B. Wheeler, J. W. Coker, J. G. Dickson,
G. S. Wilson, W. J. Rice, F. Guthrie, Ed. Ledbetter, J. L. Blades,
J. E. Robinson, G. B. Robinson, W. H. Buck, J. C. Asher, J. L.
Frohock, I. G. Berridge, C. W. Coker, G. V. Rountree, B. Harris,
T. O. Sloan, W. A. McElvain and R. F. Meador.
RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS - The first little band that met in
McLeansboro to hold devotional exercises was while the town was in
its infancy and, from the best authority we can gather, they were
of the Methodist denomination. They would continue to hold their
prayer meetings occasionally, and now and then they would enjoy
the privilege of hearing a sermon when there chanced to be an
itinerant preacher passing through the country. The first class
that was organized here was in about 1827. This was organized by
old Rev. Simon Walker, who then had charge of the circuit reaching
from Carlisle to Carmi. The aged minister would make his way
through here occasionally, and would stop and preach them an old
time sermon, that would "shake up the dry bones in the valley,"
and then go on. The M. E. Church here now can trace their origin
back to him. For many years they were not able to erect a
building and they, like all other public congregations at that
time, had to hold their meetings in the court house. This they
did for many years and gradually increased in numbers until they
felt like they were able to build a house for worship. By some
means they obtained property about where the M. E. Church now
stands, and by all pitching in and helping to build it - with what
little subscriptions they could secure - they soon got the house
up, but never had it dedicated. This was built in 1843-4, and was
about 40 by 60 feet, and the cost was estimated at $1,200. Before
the house was completed, in the spring of 1856, it was burned
down, supposed to have been done by an incendiary. Then they were
thrown upon the mercies of the world just as they were before, and
had to resort to the old court house. This served their purpose
until 1870 when they built the present building. The lot was
given by John S. Kinnear. R. L. Meador, E. E. Welborn and John S.
Kinnear were at once appointed as a building committee, and they
at once secured subscriptions and began to make preparations for
erecting a church building. L. W. Cremeens, T. H. Edwards, R. L.
Meador, John S. Kinnear, E. E. Welborn, T. L. Lockhart and Joseph
Carter were appointed as trustees of said church, and in the
spring of 1870, they at once began to make the necessary
arrangements for letting out the contract, which was taken by P.
C. Eudaily. The building was soon erected at a cost of $8,000,
and in the spring of 1871 it was dedicated by Rev. Bowen. The
ministers who have had the charge of the church from that time
until the present are, viz: Rev. Walker, Morris, Bayard,
Caughlin, Thompson, Ravenscroft, and Pender. They now have a fine
denomination, consisting of something over a hundred members.
RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS (Continued) - Perhaps the next
organization in the town was by the Cumberland Presbyterians. But
there was no other church building except the Old School
Presbyterians. This body was organized December 16, 1867, by Rev.
John Huston, with only eight members, viz: H. W. White, Mr. and
Mrs. J. R. Siddall, John Parkhill, Martha Parkhill, Elizabeth
Parkhill, Sarah Parkhill and Julie White. Rev. John Huston was
chosen as the first pastor of the church. Soon afterwards there
was a committee appointed to see about raising money to build a
church. A liberal subscription was secured and the building was
soon erected at a cost of $3,500, and in the spring of 1868 it was
dedicated. The following are the marriages in the church since
the organization: Philip Rearden to Ida Carpenter, July 15th,
1873; Thomas Eckley to Rosalie M. Marshall, May 18, 1875; C. M.
Wiseman to Edith M. Marshall, Dec. 30, 1875; A. M Sturman to
Rebecca M. Carpenter, April 10th, 1876; C. W. Pape to Irene Gates,
July 4th, 1876; Byrd E. Cremeens to Nellie Carpenter, Oct. 8,
1881, and Charles H. Heard to Nahwista Gates. The deaths which
have occurred are Mrs. Martha Parkhill, September 23, 1871; John
McElvain, March 23, 1873 (he was not a member of the organization,
but was a warm supporter and therefore has his name recorded in
the church history); Mrs. Claa White, April 22, 1874; Mrs. Frances
Leake, 1875; Peter Leake, Jan. 1875; Alexander K. Walcott, March
24, 1877; John J. Powell, July 15, 1877; Mary Allen, April 21,
1878; and Henry E. Carpenter, Oct 1, 1882. They have membership
of 22. At present they have no pastor.
C. P. CHURCH - This is the oldest organization in Hamilton
county, having been organized in 1822, by Rev. D. W. Mackley.
This old veteran continued to preach to his congregation for quite
a while after the church was organized. Afterwards, Rev. Jesse
Pearce, W. M. Hamilton, J. Alexander and William Davis had charge
of the church at different times. They worked along quietly for
many years and had quite a congregation, numbering about 80.
About 1837 they became disorganized by some means and for some
years there was no organization until Rev. Milledge Miller and R.
M. Davis reorganized it in the court house where they held
meetings for some time. There being some dissatisfaction the
church was moved out in the country to what is known as Union
Hall. There they moved along pleasantly for some time, but after
a while they again became disorganized and in 1874 they were
reorganized for the last time, by Rev. R. M. Davis, who continued
to be their minister for about eight years. They like all other
denominations were compelled to hold their services in the court
house until other means could be provided. In 1875, A. Sullenger,
A. M. Wilson, A. Weldin and few others gathered together what
means they could get by subscription and other means and soon
erected the present building at a cost of about $3,000. They soon
had the building dedicated by Rev. Hogg, and since that time they
have been under the care of R. M. Davis and George Williams.
Among the oldest members of that order was Daniel Marshall, John
Anderson and wife, old Mrs. Bond, the Baily family and some of the
BAPTIST CHURCH - There has been a Baptist organization in
McLeansboro for many years, but want of energy and lack of courage
on the part of some of the members, caused it to grow cold and for
many years the little band was without a minister. It seems as
though there was no church organization for some time. On the
thirteenth day of Feb., 1872, Rev. A. DeFoe, James H. Daily, James
Braden, Elvira Howard and Julia Gray were called together as a
presbytery by Rev. C. Allen and they proceeded at once to organize
themselves into a Baptist Church of Christ by calling Rev. C.
Allen as their pastor and electing James H. Daily as church clerk.
There being no building for worship they were obliged to use the
courthouse, which served their purpose for a number of years. On
the twelfth day of April 1874, John C. Hall, Dr. A. Defoe and
Henderson Daily were appointed as a committee to draw up a draft
of the church house, which they were contemplating to build, and
the probable cost not to be less than $3,500. This was done and
there was a building committee appointed consisting of Jasper
Boyd, T. B. Wright, J. H. Daily, and two others. The necessary
subscription was raised to insure the payment and they then
proceed to let out the contract to the lowest bidder. This they
did and A. A. Young, of Hoodville, took the contract of building
the same for $2,250.00. The church was completed by the above
named gentleman, and in 1876 it was dedicated by Rev. French.
Since that time the church has been under the pastoral care of
Rev. C. Allen, John Rodman and W. H. Carner. The church is now
out of debt and has a membership of over a hundred with C. Allen
Written by John B. Kinnear
and published in the McLeansboro Times on January 31, 1884.
CHRISTIAN CHURCH - This church organized Feb. 9th, 1876, by
Rev. J. T. Baker with 17 members. They held their services in
the court house for some time, and until other means could be
provided for. They soon made the necessary arrangements for
building a house and B. T. M. Pemberton, J. J. Buck and Oscar
McGee were appointed as a building committee. They at once began
to solicit subscriptions which was very favorably met by the
citizens and they soon obtained enough to secure the erection of
the church building. In June, 1880, they let the contract for
building the church to George Hoffman, who agreed to build for the
sum of $1,365. It was soon erected according to contract and has
been their place of worship ever since; although it has never yet
been dedicated since their organization; they have for the most of
the time been under the pastoral care of Revs. T. W. Wall, D.
Logan, G. W. Marl and B. R. Gilbert.
The church now has a nice little congregation of about 85
members and is in good working condition.
EPISCOPAL CHURCH - This church was organized as follows: On
the 9th day of February, 1880, Mrs. Mary A. Pake visited Mt.
Vernon, Ill., by invitation of Mrs. J. J. Beecher, for the purpose
of meeting the Right Rev. George Franklin Seymour. The object was
to solicit the aid of establishing services at McLeansboro and to
invite the Rev. M. Stelle of Cincinnati to take charge of said
town. It was proposed by the bishop that the members of
McLeansboro get together and see if $500 could be raised for the
purpose of paying in part the salary of the clergyman. The
meeting was held and the sum of two hundred dollars was promptly
subscribed and the Rev. Ingram W. Irvine was invited to take
charge of the church. There being no place to hold worship, J. M.
Shoemaker tendered his hall for that purpose until other
arrangements could be made. The church was organized with the
following communicants, viz: Mr. and Mrs. W. Rickords, Mr. and
Mrs. S. J. Pake, Miss Annie Jones, Miss Mary Jones, Mrs. John
Darley and Mrs. J. M. Shoemaker. In addition to the above they
now have belonging, Mr. L. Powell, Mrs. L. Powell (deceased), Miss
Lulu Lockhart, Mrs. J. H. Miller, Mrs. S. W. Heard, Mrs. C. G.
McCoy, Miss Stewart and Mrs. Geo. P. Foote.
Mr. Charles H. Heard gave them a lot on the fifth day of
July, 1880. Mr. Wm. Rickords, J. M. Shoemaker, C. G. McCoy, S. J.
Pake and Mr. L. Powell were appointed as trustees of said Church
and under their instructions the Church was erected. The corner
stone was laid Aug. 19, 1880, by the Right Rev. George Franklin
Seymour, assisted by Rev. Irvine, Rev. Stanley, and Rev. Jesse
Higgins of Centralia, Ill. The contract to erect the building was
let Aug. 13, 1880, to W. S. Thompson, of Mt. Vernon, Ill. and they
at once went to work on it. It cost when completed about $10,000
and was finished the following Spring on the nineteenth day of
February, 1882. The first sermon was preached in it after the
building was completed, it was delivered by Rev. R. B. Hoyt. The
Church is now quite an ornament to the town and in fact is about
the finest finished Church in Southern Illinois.
THE PRESS - There is no instrumentality, not even excepting
the pulpit and the bar, in this broad country of ours, that exerts
half the influence as does the Press. It is the lever that moves
the world and is the chief means by which the world is carried on.
Without it we would simply be a heathenish people and left to
wonder and smother away in our ignorance. The minister on the
Sabbath Day preaches to a large congregation and in a short time
his thoughts are reproduced more than a thousand fold and are read
and discussed throughout the whole country. They are the means by
which we gather our thoughts and arrive at our own conclusions.
The lawyer pleading at the bar in thrilling tones, pleads either
for or against the criminal who is arraigned for trial, often
causing the jury to bring in a verdict against the law. His words
ring in the ears of his hearers and are reproduced a thousand
times and are carefully weighed by unprejudiced men and taken for
what they are worth. The news of our elections suddenly flash over
the wires and is soon chronicled on the pages of our papers and
then sent to all parts of our known world where the same channel
of thought runs through the minds of millions and reveals to them
the changes that are taking place in so short time. The power for
the good or evil of the press, is today unlimited. The
shortcoming of the politicians are made known through its columns;
the dark deeds of the lawless are exposed and each fear and dread
it alike. The controlling influence of a Nation, State, County or
community is it Press.
Written by John B. Kinnear
and published in The McLeansboro Times on February 7, 1884
(The Press Continued) - The first printing that was ever done
in Hamilton County was by James P. Stelle, who made a wooden press
and then with his knife whittled out a foot or two of type and
thus introduced the first printing in the county. He did not,
however, attempt to print any paper because his press was too
incomplete to think of doing such a thing. He opened the way for
others to take some enterprise in the matter and soon there was a
press brought to town in 1855 by Mr. Moudy, who started the first
County paper, this was called the Hamilton News," and was run by
Mr. Moudy for three or four years, when he was superseded by Jack
Alden and the name was changed to the "Hamilton Succor." The
paper run in this name for some years, but was like all other
county papers - had a hard time for its life. After some years of
experience, Mr. Alden sold out to Mr. J. W. Meador who run it
under the title of "The Hamilton Express." Mr. Meador's
connection with the paper was not very long and he soon sold out,
and it then assumed the name of "Vox-Populi" (voice of the
people), under which it was edited for some time but did not prove
to be successful. C. C. Carpenter, the young Orator of the
Carpenter family and whose name will be familiar to most of the
aged readers of "The Times," took charge of the paper as
proprietor and editor of same; running it under the name of the
"Hamilton Democrat." Mr. Carpenter was an able editor and a
forcible writer and while the paper was under his editorial care
it seemed to be prosperous and was indeed all honor to the party
in this county at that day. After his discontinuance with the
paper, it was sold to a company and its name was changed to the
"Union Eagle." This was strongly a Republican paper, the first
that had ever been edited in the county, and John P. Stelle took
the place as editor. The Republican party at that time was
growing pretty strong in the country and there being no other
paper in the county, of course they received quite a handsome
patronage. The paper was of course some help to its party and
continued to issue its Republicanism for about three or four years
when it was sold to Judge Goodridge and T. T. Wilson, of Jefferson
county, and the name was changed to "The Hamilton Democrat," thus
the two parties were continually throwing sharp hatchets at each
other for some time until each of them got a press and both had
equal footing. The last named gentlemen run the paper for a
short time when they sold out to Mr. R. F. Brown, who was a very
able editor, and run the paper very successfully for some years
under the name of "The McLeansboro Times," after his connection
with the paper, The Times came under the control of Hon. John C.
Edwards, and retained its old name which has followed it down to
the present date. Mr. Edwards being a talented young man and full
of energy, made the paper an honor to the Democratic party, and
edited it with skill and good judgment for a short time, when he
sold out to Mr. M. B. Friend, who is well known throughout
Hamilton County and for a good vocabulary slang could certainly
"take the cake." He seemed to make things rather warm for the
majority of those who took issue against him and many of his
expressions will long be remembered and handed down to generations
yet to come. Mr. Friend continued to edit the same until the
Spring of 1874 when the office was burned during the fire that
swept Walker's block. This left but one paper in the town, "The
Era," which had been started in the winter of 1871 and which
history we will give in a subsequent article. The Democratic
party now felt their need for a press to represent them in the
county and by some means, I believe partially by subscription,
they raised a sufficient amount to purchase another outfit and the
paper soon started again under the editorial care of Mr. Friend,
who continued to run the same until he sold the press to J. R. and
Charles Campbell, the remainder of which we will give in a
subsequent writing. In 1881 Mr. M. B. Friend started another
Democratic paper called "The Hearld" and continued to run it some
four or five months when it was discontinued. The party was not
strong enough to support two organs and therefore it was thought
best to suspend the latter for a while at least. The office was
bought out by Mr. J. R. Campbell, and Mr. Friend went to
Harrisburg where is now running a Democratic paper at present.
THE GOLDEN ERA - This paper was started by John P. Stelle and
the first issue was laid before the people Jan. 13, 1871. In this
there was quite a little salutary written by the editor in which
he set forth his ideas and intentions to the public. In this he
said they had named their paper "Golden Era" from the fact that he
thought we were just verging on the golden era of our prosperity
in Hamilton county and that the future prospects of our town were
now shining as they had never shone before. The Republican party,
which was almost verging into the greenback, had long been
wanting, and in fact were needing a press in the county to
represent their causes and advocate their principles. In the
campaign the paper made a strong fight for county officers, in
behalf of the "Farmers Club" and the entire ticket was elected
principally through the warm support that "The Era" gave them.
John Coker had an interest in the paper for some time, and in fact
furnished a good portion of the means, by which it was run until
the paper was self supporting. It was run in the name of Coker &
Stelle one year. January 15, 1874, W. W. Davisson bought an
interest in it, and it was published Davisson & Stelle, until
March 1878, when Stelle was no longer known as a partner. During
this time they strongly advocated the Greenback party, and in the
campaign of 1876, they took an active part and did all they could
for their party. After Stelle's discontinuance with the paper it
was still managed by W. W. Davisson.
Written by John B. Kinnear
and published in The McLeansboro Times on February 14, 1884.
(The Press Continued) - The paper first came out a seven
column folio but afterwards changed to a five column quarto, in
which it was printed until its discontinuance. During its
publication it had advocated the Greenback principles for some
years and still held to the same until its discontinuance in the
early part of 1884, when Mr. W. W. Davisson sold out to J. R.
Campbell, publishing his valedictory in the last number of the
ERA, Jan. 3rd, 1884.
Mt. Carmel District Advocate - This was a five column folio
edited by the presiding elder of the M. E. Church who at the time
resided in Enfield. It was published in the ERA office for one
year and was then moved to Fairfield.
Progressive Farmer - This was a four column quarto paper,
edited by James P. Stelle of Mobile, Ala., and was published by
John P. Stelle and W. W. Davisson in the ERA office for about one
year. It was only a monthly paper but had a very large
subscription - the price being only 50 cents a year. After a
year's publication in McLeansboro it was moved to Evansville,
Ind., and from there to Mobile, Alabama.
McLeansboro Times - THE TIMES as has already been said was
run under the management of M. B. Friend until the fall of 1878.
On the tenth of October, 1878, Mr. Chas. Campbell, in partnership
with J. R. Campbell, bought of M. B. Friend for $1,200 the
McLeansboro Times and continued the same under the old title.
The paper had been Democratic since its first issue and during the
many changes it had undergone, with the exception of which J. C.
Edwards controlled it (and then favored the election of a
Democratic president and in fact was almost neutral).
In the first issue of THE TIMES under the management of
Campbell Bros., it set forth its views very plainly and strongly
in favor of Democracy, which principles they have warmly advocated
every since. It has been instrumental in keeping the party well
and thoroughly posted on the issues of the day and now has a large
circulation than any other paper has ever had in Hamilton county.
The paper represents decidedly the largest party in the county and
is well supported by those who want to stand by their Democracy.
In May, 1883, Charles Campbell sold out to James R. Campbell and
was no longer known as a partner. Since that time the latter has
been editor and proprietor of the paper and is still running it
yet in the interest of the Democratic party.
The Leader - This is not the first but at present is the only
Republican paper in the county. The question had long been
agitated in Hamilton county as to why it was the Republican party
could not be represented in the press. There was undoubtedly
enough of the party to give the paper a liberal patronage and
really all it needed was for some one to break the ice and give it
a start. This was done in the fall of 1882 by Dr. C. M. Lyon and
John Irvin, who went to St. Lois and purchased a new press,
together with a complete outfit and then for the first time in the
history of our town we had three county papers published,
representing the three parties in our midst.
The first issue of THE LEADER made its appearance on the 29th
day of November, 1882, in which there appears a salutatory putting
forth their intentions, while the paper was started in the
interest of the Republican party they also advocated the cause of
Temperance, in which they say "While it will be a Republican paper
it is not strictly in the interest of any faction or clique and
will be free to fight corruption or frauds when it should be found
in its own party. We expect to take advanced ground on all
question affecting the interest of the people, and when the
prohibition question shall become a factor in politics - which
from present appearance, it will do at no far distant day we shall
be found battling for temperance with all the vim there is in us,
locally it will at all times be for men and measures that are best
calculated to benefit the county, and in no case will be found
advocating the election of any man to office in Hamilton county,
who is not both in precept and practice a temperance man. In
short we wast to publish a paper which will be a credit for
ourselves and an honor to McLeansboro, and in doing so we expect
to have opinions on all questions which come before the public,
and to give those opinions freely and without favor."
The paper is yet in its infancy, but is receiving a liberal
patronage. With this we conclude the history of the press in
McLeansboro, although we have some omissions in our last issue
which we will correct in our conclusion.
Fire of 1874 - In the Spring of 1874, there broke out the
most destructive fire that has ever visited our town, which
resulted in the burning of what was known as "Walker's block."
The fire was discovered in the evening and was thought by some to
have caught from a Cigar being thrown into the shavings. As soon
as the discovery of fire was made known they at once set to work
to suppress and put it out but all in vain. The Hotel known as
Goudy House (But then the Longwort house) together with two fine
business houses and one dwelling belonging to L. Walker were soon
reduced to ashes and the loss was very heavy. The McLeansboro
Times office was burned and the press ruined. This added greatly
to the dilapidated look of our town, but after some time the space
was again occupied by temporary buildings - part of which are yet