|HISTORY OF COLES COUNTY.|
This township, named from the city of Mattoon, is the middle one in the western tier of townships in the county. It contains thirty-six sections of land —one Congressional township—and is principally prairie land.
The Little Wabash courses through the southern part, flowing southward until it finds an outlet in the larger stream of that name. In the southern part, skirting this stream, is a strip of timber, known as the Wabash Point Timber, and is the locality where the earliest settlements were made. It is the only grove of native forest-trees, of any size, in the township. The best timber has long been cut away for use in the settlement of the country, what is left being used chiefly for firewood.
The Little Wabash affords the principal drainage in the township. Its eastern part is known as the “Divide,” as the water naturally runs in opposite directions from that point. It is almost the highest land in Illinois.
Away from the timber to the north, the face of the country is generally quite level, broken only by long undulations. It is almost entirely prairie land in this part, and was allowed to remain uncultivated until after the opening of the railroads. It was largely used for pasturage during this period, and often presented signs of great animation as the herds of cattle, under the care of their drovers, moved about over its grassy, slightly undulating surface. The prairies are now the chief producing part of the township. They easily admit of good drainage and, though to some extent rather level, are exceedingly productive. Corn is the principal cereal grown. The others do well, but throughout this part of Central Illinois are not the staple article of agriculture. Cattle and hogs are raised quite extensively. Mr. Elisha Linder and a few others have been for many years prominently engaged in this business. The railroads at Mattoon give a direct outlet to all the chief markets of the world and should maintain a constant sale for farm produce.
A curious phenomenon exists on the farm of W. M. Champion, in the south-west part of this township. When digging for a well in March, 1871, after attaining a depth of thirty-one feet, a drill was used which was sunk a few feet farther, and a vein of carbonate gas struck. It was observed that when the drill was withdrawn the water gurgled up at irregular intervals, and as a vein was supposed to be found preparations were made to wall the well. No smell was attached to the gas, and no thoughts of it being then entertained. From the peculiar motion of the water it was feared by one of the men that there might be poisonous gases in the well, and one of them went after a wisp of hay and another for some shavings. The latter returned first, and, lighting his bunch, was hallooed to by the other to “Throw it down.” i. e., on the ground. Thinking he meant throw it in the well he did, and a frightful report and sheet of flame burst forth. Mr. Tremble and one or two others who were near were severely scorched about the face, and all were tremendously amazed. The gas soon burned out, but would soon accumulate. Various experiments were made with it. An iron tube was inserted and the gas allowed to escape in a small stream. When lighted it burned with a brilliant light. The well soon became notorious and was visited by scores of people from all sections of the West. Finally, Mr. Champion bethought himself to utilize the gas, and, conducting it by pipes to his house, soon had it in use in his kitchen to cook by, and in other stoves it was used as fuel. It made an excellent light, and he has all the appliances of a city in that regard. He walled the well, and now water stands in it, all seasons, so that from one well he gets light, fuel and water, all without any tax or license.
Attempts have been made to obtain petroleum in the township, but all have proved unsuccessful. Coal can be had as it was found in exploring for oil, but at such a depth that it will hardly pay to work.
With this brief outline of the topographical features of the township, we will pass to that part of more interest to all—the
As has been intimated, the earliest settlement in this township was made near the timber on the Little Wabash, in the south part of the township. Emigration to this part of the county came after that part along the Embarrass River had received its first influx of settlers, hence the locality was known before any came to live.
In the summer of 1826, Mr. Charles Sawyer, a resident of Kentucky, came to this part of Illinois looking for a home. He remained a short time with the Trues, in what is now La Fayette Township, and examined the country to the south and west of them. Selecting a location at the north side of the timber, on the Little Wabash, he returned to the True settlement, and hired a man named Bates, for $10, to build him a cabin, while he should return to Kentucky for his family. Mr. Bates hired Levi Doty, a young man living in the neighborhood, to build the cabin, and, by winter, a very comfortable home was ready for “Uncle Charley” when he should return. This cabin was the first habitation for a white man known to have been built in the bounds of either Mattoon or Paradise Township. It stood near the site of Mr. John Sawyer’s house in Section 28, and until a few other pioneers could erect similar habitations, was the home of the emigrant while he was selecting and preparing his own fireside.
During the interval from the completion of the cabin by Mr. Doty, and what few pioneers he could call to his aid, and Mr. Sawyer’s return in the spring of 1827, one family made it a temporary home until they could build their own cabins. The family was that of James Nash. They were living in the cabin when Mr. Sawyer arrived. Some among the early residents state that another family, that of Miles Hart, occupied the cabin. Mr. John Sawyer is, however, not of this opinion. It may be that Mr. Hart remained in it only a few days, while Mr. Nash seems to have used it longer. Which of the two statements is accurate, it is now difficult to determine, but we are inclined to the opinion that only Mr. Nash lived in the cabin, and that Mr. Hart did not come until later, as is mentioned further on. When “Uncle Charley,” as he was afterward always known, returned, he brought with him his two sons-in-law, John Young and Henry Cole, who each brought a small family. Mr. Young settled where B. F. Mooney now lives, and Mr. Cole immediately north and adjoining Uncle Charley. These three pioneers had not been long in their frontier homes until they were joined by John Houching, known as “Uncle Jack,” who settled the farm now owned by Azariah Sanders. The Hart families, one of whom, Miles H., has already been noticed, came about the same time, and joined the infantile settlement. Miles H. was joined by his father, Thomas, and his brothers Silas, Jonathan, Moses and Thomas, Jr., all of whom brought families but the last named, who was yet a single man. The Hart family settled in what is now Paradise Township, and will be found noticed there more fully. If they all came at once, then the assertion of Mr. John Sawyer, that Miles H. did not live in his father’s cabin prior to the latter’s permanent removal, is correct. These families, with James T. Cunningham and Jefferson Coleman came together, and were the pioneers of Paradise Township. The entire settlement at that date was, however, counted as one.
These persons were about all that came in 1827. They formed the first settlement and may be truly named the pioneers of that part of the county.
The next year, John Sawyer, brother of Charles, located on the east side of the timber. About the same time that he came, George M. Hanson and Dr. John Epperson, the first physician in the county, arrived. Mr. Hanson settled the farm now owned by John E. Tremble, and the Doctor located farther south, just over the line in what is now Paradise Township. Though an early settler there, and one whose history properly belongs to that township, some account of him here will not be out of place.
He was for many years the only physician of all this part of the country, often riding twenty and thirty miles to visit his patients. He was uniformly kind and faithful in his attentions to the sick, and was greatly respected. Even after old age came on and he earnestly requested none to call on him for professional advice or aid, his old neighbors and acquaintances would not give him up, but came again and again for him. If he could not go to the patient, they would ask for prescriptions and advice, and as long as the old Doctor lived, he could not deny them this. He remained at his old home until his death, which occurred only a little over a year ago. The old settlers of this part remember well the golden wedding which he and his faithful wife were privileged to celebrate a few years ago.
About a year after the settlement of the Doctor and Mr. Hanson, came James Graham and family, who located a little east of Charles Sawyer. Mr. G. was a local Methodist preacher of commendable zeal, and a faithful, earnest, Christian man. He was one of the pioneer ministers in the western part of the county, and was a man extensively known. Soon after he settled, Elisha Linder arrived with his mother, two sisters and one brother, and settled south and adjoining Mr. Graham. Mr. Linder had been out here in 1829, and selected a location, remaining about two months. Early in 1831, he returned, planted a crop, raised a cabin, and then returned for his mother and family, arriving with them in October. They were from Hardin County, Ky., where many of those we have mentioned had lived, and, like their predecessors, came to Illinois to find a new home, and where they could grow with the growth of the county. Mr. Linder is still living on his old homestead, in the enjoyment of the comforts a long, busy life has gathered around him.
James Nash, of whom mention has been made, died soon after his settlement. His was the first death in the community, and, for want of better tools, his coffin was made of split walnut puncheons. Mr. John Sawyer, Sr., now an old man, states that he was among those who made the coffin and dug the grave. He was a boy then, but distinctly remembers the circumstances. No train of carriages or gilded hearse bore his remains to their last resting-place. The few neighbors, true to one another, gathered silently at the cabin of their late associate, and, after a prayer, a song, and a few remarks by the good old Elder, laid him away in his rough coffin and lonely grave. Mr. Nash’s death was the result of an injury received from carrying a log, with which to make a bee gum, on his shoulder. His death occurred on December 24, 1829. He was buried on Christmas Day, on a small bluff on the Little Wabash, near what is now the home of John Thomas, on the road from Mattoon to Paradise. This was the first grave dug for a white settler at the Wabash Point. One of his children has since been buried near him. The place Mr. Nash settled fell into the hands of William Langston, another early settler. It is now owned by William Clark. George Morris settled west of Mr. Langston’s, his farm being the one now owned by the widow Langston. Next west of Mr. Morris was old Mr. Champion, father of Richard and William Champion. Further on south and west of the timber, in what is now Paradise Township, were the Curry's, Moores, McIntoshes, Alexanders, Crosses, Brinegers and the Drakes. These were among the early settlers in this neighborhood, and in Paradise Township, where they are more particularly noticed.
On November 11, 1830, Mr. Hiram Tremble came to the infantile settlement, pitching his camp near the cabin of “Uncle Charley.” He says it was the common camping-ground for all, and Uncle Charley was looked upon as the center of the little group. He was always a true friend to all who came was; a devout, earnest Christian, a Methodist, and was among the first to aid in planting that church at the Point.
Mr. Tremble is a local minister in that denomination, and is now living on his old homestead. He has been quite active in advancing the interests of this part of the county; was a contractor and builder of part of the two railroads centering at Mattoon; helped build the first grain warehouse there, and was one of the first merchants in the town. He will be well remembered by many residents in his sketches of the early times here, published in the Mattoon Journal, under the title, “Forty Years Ago,” and from which we have obtained much of our information respecting the early days of the western part of the county.
The settlers mentioned include about all who came prior to 1882. During this interval. Coles County was formed, and a voting-place established in this neighborhood. The first who came generally lived in their wagons until they could erect a cabin. These cabins were built of round logs, notched at the ends, so as to fit closely together. They were generally cut the required length in the woods, and, on the “raising-day,” were hauled to the place selected for the future home of the pioneer. As fast as they were brought to the ground, they were notched and rolled into their place, two of the best men in the party acting as “end men.”
When the cabin had reached the required height, the four last, or top, logs were often made three or four feet longer than the rest, thereby projecting over their fellows. The end pieces forming the cone were made each one shorter than its predecessor, until an apex was reached. On this, from end to end, was laid a stout center-pole, projecting like its fellows three or four feet at either end. About two feet below it, another was placed, and on down until the ends of the outstretching logs were reached. These were covered with split oak slabs, one-half inch thick, about a foot wide and often four feet long. They were held in their places generally by “weight poles,” i. e., poles placed over each “lap“ of the clapboards, held in their places by short sticks placed endways between them. Sometimes stones were laid on the roof in addition to these. The cabin was now a simple pen, with no means of ingress and egress, and no apertures for light, save the cracks between the logs. They must not be left unclosed, as but little or no protection could be afforded with them open. A bed of “mud” mortar was made, the heart pieces of the oak, from which the clapboards or “shakes” had been made for the roof and puncheons for the floor and doors, were taken, inserted edgways between the logs and held in their places by pins driven into auger-holes in the logs, and all covered well with the mud mortar; when thoroughly dry, the chinking and daubing completely covered the cracks and rendered the cabin comfortable.
An opening for the door was made in the side of the house by cutting a space about three feet in width by six feet in height, leaving the upper and lower logs half cut through, one to form a door-step, the other a secure upper-part. “Jambs” were next pinned to the ends of the logs, both to hold them in their places and to form a better door-frame. The door was made of split puncheons pinned to cross-pieces and hung on wooden hinges. The latch was made on the inner side of the door, and was raised from the outside by means of a leather thong passing through a gimlet-hole a few inches above the latch. At night, it was drawn in and the door was practically locked. It was always out in the daytime, and was considered by the pioneer an open invitation to all to enter and partake of his hospitality. It was, in its mute way, a sign of welcome, and gave rise to the popular, earnest proverb, “My latch-string is always out.” This was exemplified by the fact that when it was withdrawn it was considered that, for some reason, the invitation was for the time also withdrawn.
A window for the humble home was made, commonly opposite the door, by cutting out a space about two feet square and placing therein a window containing two or four window-lights. In early pioneer times in the West, when glass could not be obtained, either owing to the distance to the settlements or the poverty of the pioneer, greased paper answered the place of glass, the windows, however, having only a dimension of the width of one log, and probably two feet long. Sometimes, especially in schoolhouses, several feet in length of a log was cut out and a window made in this manner. The next thing necessarv to complete the cabins was the chimney or fire-place. That was always at one end of the cabin, and was often five or six feet wide and nearly three feet deep.
An aperture was made in the logs of the required length, and a space measured off outside, and covered either with clay or more often with flagstones. Split pieces of oak were made, one end of which was placed just inside the logs of the wall, the other projecting outward, where it was crossed by a similar stick, both notched to fit closely together. The inclosure was built up in this manner until the required height was reached. The inside was securely covered with stones or a thick layer of mud, more commonly the former, to prevent the chimney from burning. On the top of this pen, a chimney was made of sticks and mud firmly cemented together. At the bottom, it was of the same size, or nearly so, of the fire-place, but grew narrower as it neared the top, where it was often not more than one foot square. This chimney, when properly constructed, was perfectly safe, and possessed an excellent draught. On the inner side, a crane was hung, to which were suspended the various pots and kettles used by the good wife or her daughters in their cooking. No stoves at this date were to be seen. Even had they been easily obtained, the poverty of the average pioneer would have prevented him from obtaining one.
The floor was laid with puncheons split, like the clapboards for the roof, with a frow, from a clean, straight-grained oak-tree. They were from four to six or eight feet in length, and were laid, commonly, on short, round poles, a few inches above the ground. Often the pioneer’s cabin did not possess even the luxury of such a floor, the earth, tramped hard, answering the purpose. If a loft was desired, it was made by running stout poles, three or four feet apart, from the top of the last round of logs on one side of the cabin to the other, and on these were laid puncheons similar to the ones on the floor beneath. A ladder, leading from below, stood in one corner of the cabin, generally just behind the door and near the fire-place.
The early emigrants rarely brought an extensive outfit for housekeeping. They were mostly poor, and in this regard were all equal. The cabin had been built, it will be observed, without a single piece of iron being put into its construction, pegs answering the place of nails. Where beds, tables, chairs and other such articles were needed, they were made. The bed was a rude, strong affair, made in one corner of the room, by placing an upright post about four feet from one wall, and six or seven from the other. Poles were laid from this post to both walls, slats laid thereon, whose outer end extended through between two logs, and on them the bed was spread. Dried prairie-grass was often used until feathers could be obtained. Under this bed, a smaller one was made that could be pulled out at night, and shoved under again in the morning. We have seen them in this manner, and have also seen, about two feet above the main bed, another made, and at the same distance above that, another, not unlike the berths in a steamboat. A table was made of a stout oak plank, or two of them fastened together with cross-pieces pegged on and supported by four upright posts inserted at auger-holes near each corner. Stools were made in the same manner, only they were small and commonly three-legged. Pegs were driven in auger-holes in the wall, on which the wearing apparel of each one could be hung, or where any article not needed could find a resting-place, were it something adapted to that way of support. Shelves for dishes were made from small split boards, placed either on pegs or inside two uprights made in the same way, and held to their place by means of notches.
These were the main features of the cabin-home. Many did not possess as many articles as we have enumerated, and some had more, and often much better habitations. The luxuries of life were generally not seen the first years of the settlement, but appeared as the residents could obtain them.
After the neighborhood had become established in this part of Mattoon Township—for by such boundaries must they be designated, even though the townships did not then exist—some of the young men and women concluded they could get along better together, and a new home was to be provided for them. Land was plenty and cheap, and not so much was required then to commence married life as now. A cabin, similar to the one we have described, was erected for the young couple, and was commonly dedicated with a dance or frolic, in which all the young folks of the community joined.
When the young couple repaired to their new home, generally on horse-back or on foot (if by the former method, both on one horse), they found it ready for use, with its puncheon table, tripod stools, slab cupboard and wide chimney. It would contain a few articles of household utility given by the parents of the pair; for a bride’s dower consisted then of a few such articles, some good advice, and, mayhap, a horse and side-saddle. The young husband had an ax, a few other tools, a few farming implements, and, possibly, a horse. Thus equipped, they started in life. The young bride had no confidential friend; knew nothing of milliners and mantua-makers; did not take a fashion-journal or the New York Weekly to beguile leisure hours and give her foolish nothings to think about. She entered on life conscious of a duty, fully prepared to do her part, with a healthy body, vigorous, crude mind, and earnest purpose. Before a few years elapsed, other tripods were needed for the children that had come to the frontier home; and comforts and blessings of life, though they entailed hardship and toil, came to the rude, cheerful home.
As much as old people love to dwell upon these pleasant memories, we cannot but think there are equally brave and willing brides to-day, who, though they do not meet trouble in the way our ancestors found it, find it in other ways, calling for as much resolve and resolution as of old, whose trials are met as bravely as those met and overcome by their grandmothers of the early day of Central Illinois.
As soon as the old cabin-home had been established, the next care was the planting and cultivation of a crop. A space was cleared in the woods (as they had no plows that would turn the prairie sod), and, after being turned by the barshare plow, was planted in corn, potatoes and a few other garden vegetables, while a portion was sown in wheat, could any be obtained. Corn, however, then, as now, was the main staple. It furnished the meal for food, and, by boiling in strong lye, made by filtering water through wood ashes, an excellent and nutritious hominy was produced. Honey was abundant at this day, the woods abounding in bee-trees. In a year or two after the first settlers located, maple-sugar and molasses were additional articles of food, and most excellent ones, too. No molasses brings as high a price as maple-sirup now, owing to its scarcity; the sugar, however, is not considered possessing the same qualities as other kinds, hence is not much in demand. These articles, found so abundantly in frontier life, added much to its comforts. Cornmeal could be made on the old grater or mortar, and, when baked as the native Kentucky housewife knew how, made a most nutritious and palatable article of food. The appetites of the pioneers were generally sharpened by violent exercise in their daily vocations, and did not need any tempting viands to induce them to eat.
Pork was obtained by allowing the hogs to run wild in the woods, subsisting on the mast then so plenty. To prevent them from roaming over the cultivated fields, a brush fence was made by felling a great number of small trees with their tops altogether in a continuous line around the field. Hogs fattened on the mast made good pork, and as corn was not so abundant then as now, and mast plenty and free, they were allowed undisturbed access to it. They often became in a measure quite wild when allowed to roam, and when wanted at killing season generally had to be shot. While young, they were kept near the house and securely penned, as the wolves soon evinced a fondness for fresh, tender pork, and did not scruple in the slightest to take all they could get. When the pigs were large enough to resist the wolf, they were allowed their freedom.
Deer, bears, wild turkeys and prairie chickens provided an abundant supply of wild meat for the settlers. Deer were as plenty as cattle now, and it was not an uncommon affair, for the pioneer to shoot one from his cabin-door did he want a fresh venison steak for his breakfast. So common was the article it was not considered the luxury it is now, and was not thought as much a company dish as pork or beef. Turkeys grew very fat when the mast became ripe, and were very tender eating. Prairie chickens were not often eaten, their flesh not being considered very palatable. Bears, while they were not so plenty here as in some parts of the West, were by no means a rarity, and often furnished food for the settlers. Buffaloes were very scarce, even if any were to be found. Their bones, old settlers tell us, were thickly strewn over the prairies when they came, but the live animal was a rarity.
Wolves were the most troublesome animals to be found. They would kill the young pigs, depopulate chicken-roosts, carry off young lambs, slay their mothers, and all the time render night hideous with their howlings. They were very numerous, too, so much so, that grand hunts were organized to exterminate them. Mr. Elisha Linder tells how that in one winter he killed one hundred of them, generally by riding them down and clubbing them, or shooting them. The wolf was generally a great coward, preferring to pillage at night. During the day they would retire to their dens on some little knoll or in the edge of the timber. After the country began to settle, bounties were offered by the counties for wolf-scalps, whereby many paid their taxes. Now they are all gone from this part of Illinois, and should one adventurous wolf show himself, such a hunt would be organized to capture him, as would almost rival the hunts of early times.
We have departed, somewhat, from the direct thread of the narrative, to notice the accidents to which the first pioneers were liable in the erection of their cabins, and their start in their new homes. We will now return, in part, to the narrative of the settlement, and note a few subsequent events.
We had brought the story down to the year 1832. About this year, Charles W. Nabb, now a resident of Mattoon, came up from Lawrence County, Ill., purchased the farm of George M. Hanson, and became one of the permanent settlers. Mr. Hanson went to Whitley’s Point and settled on the farm where now Deck Dole lives. Among other old settlers of this date, may be reckoned David Hanson, from Virginia, who may have been a year or two earlier than 1832; John Young, from Kentucky; William Moore, who removed first from Kentucky to Cumberland County, then to Coles; James Waddill, an early teacher; Barton Randall; James James, another early local preacher; Nathan Curry, who came in the spring of 1830, raised one crop, then moved to Shelby County, where he lived many years; and a few others, whose names we have not been able to obtain. These are, however, the majority, of those who came to this settlement prior to the Black Hawk war. Until after that event, there were very few residents in the territory included in the present bounds of Mattoon Township. The settlement was all one, though it extended over many miles of country. All were neighbors; all were poor; all were ambitious, and nearly all came to enjoy the comforts of life they expected to find as the fruit of their privation and toil.
The winter of 1830 and 1831 was one of unusual severity. It is known in the annals of the West, especially in the northern part, as the “winter of the deep snow.” The snow fell almost continuously from the latter part of November till late in January, covering the ground in Northern Illinois to the depth of nearly four feet. In the southern part of the State, it was not so severe or lasting, and was a little more than half that depth. The winter was, however, very cold, and as the settlers were generally poorly provided against any such contingencies, much suffering ensued. About the latter part of February, a warm spell came, which quickly melted the snow, covering the entire face of the country with water. At this juncture, a reverse of temperature arose, and a continuous glare of ice was the result. People could not go anywhere with horses or oxen, as they were not able, in a majority of cases, to shoe their teams. Had skates been as common then as now, what glorious sport the boys would have enjoyed? While this ice was on the ground, a few emigrants arrived, after a tedious journey over the icy prairies. Often the women were obliged to walk, the emigrant teams scarcely able to draw the wagons. The ice was succeeded in the spring by another thaw, the like of which has rarely been seen since. The people were obliged to resort to various measures to obtain meal, fuel, meats, etc., while they were compelled to carry water and food to their stock, none of which could travel over the smooth surface everywhere presented. During this time, the old mortar and grater came vigorously into, use to supply cornmeal, and many evenings did the male members of the family devote their energies to one or the other, generally the former, to supply food for the rest. Neither was an easy task. The grater was made by puncturing the bottom of an old tin pan with a nail a great many times. On the outer edges of the rough pieces of tin thus presented, the ear was rubbed until worn to the cob. This could be successfully done only when the corn was a little soft. When hard, it would shell from the cob too easily. Then the mortar came into use. This instrument was made by burning a hollow in a block or stump, of a sufficient depth to hold about a peck of shelled corn. A pestle was then made of a heavy piece of wood, that would fit the cavity tolerably closely. Sometimes, to give it more weight, an iron wedge was fixed securely in the end. Corn would now be placed in the hole and pounded fine with the pestle. Ofttimes, to render the task easier, the pestle was rigged to a pole, not unlike a well-sweep, and worked in this way. When rigged to the sweep, it was a great saving of labor, and could be made much more effective. The meal made in this manner was not very fine, it was true, but it could be sifted, what went through the sieve being taken as the meal while the rest was made into what was known us beaten hominy.
Before the pioneers made outdoor ovens, bread was baked in a skillet or on a board before the fire. Corn-bread made in this way had a peculiar relish, it is claimed by the old settlers. Probably their appetites had much to do with the relish. Mush and milk was also a favorite which even yet has not lost its strength.
The season following the “deep snow” produced a very fair crop. A few more emigrants came to the settlement, and helped swell its numbers. No troubles with the Indians, who were very few, had been experienced in this part of Illinois, and everything here seemed in a fair way to prosperity. The northern portions of the State had, however, not been so fortunate in this regard. The Sac and Fox Indians, whose villages were near the junction of the Mississippi and Rock Rivers, had refused to leave their homes and remain beyond the Father of Waters. Black Hawk was chief of the Sac nation, whose principal village was on a romantically commanding site just above the mouth of Rock River. It had been their home for more than one hundred and fifty years, and was endeared to them by all the ties of home and human nature. By the seventh article of the treaty of 1804, the lands belonging to this nation were actually to accrue to the United States whenever they were sold to private individuals. Until such a time the Indians could remain on them and hunt as usual. In 1816, Black Hawk recognized the validity of this treaty; but when, in 1829, some of the land in his native home was sold by the General Government and became thereby the property of others, he refused to recognize the treaty and to leave his village. Adjacent to it was a large field of nearly seven hundred acres which had been the common field for the cultivation of corn, pease and squashes. This field some of the more lawless whites seized before they had a right to it, and by wanton acts of cruelty to the Indian women and children provoked the savages to retaliatory measures. The whites also brought considerable whisky, which they sold and traded to lawless Indians, against the law and the express commands of the chiefs, which so enraged them at the carousals it produced, that in one or two instances the exasperated chieftains went to the houses of the settlers, and, knocking in the heads of the whisky barrels, emptied their contents on the ground. One thing brought on another until war was declared. The first call for volunteers was made by Gov. Reynolds early in the spring of 1831. No county south of St. Clair and east of Sangamon was included in this call, as it was thought the Indians could be easily driven across the Mississippi, where they had been for a time living. Black Hawk refused to go, and force was used. At first the Indians conquered the whites, and more calls were made for volunteers. Numbers responded from every part of the State. In these calls, Coles County furnished but few men, and the Wabash Point less than a dozen. Those that went were required to furnish their own guns, ammunition, horses, etc., and provisions enough to last them to one of the forts where the general rendezvous took place. There they were supplied with ammunition and food, and were attached to some regiment. The recruits generally went in companies under self-appointed leaders. The State militia law was then in force, and each man knew, or thought he knew, the tactics of war. The sequel showed some ludicrous sides of human nature. Many brave men at home were cowards on the field, and ready to run at the first opportunity. It was observed, then, that the bravest were the modest ones, and those that commonly had the least to say about their own valiant deeds were the ones who merited praise.
It might not be amiss to mention the “ old muster-days,“ as they were called. They were days of a general gathering, when all able-bodied men were required to meet at some designated point and drill. The day began to be regarded as one of general frolics, rather than muster, for, as the danger from the Indians decreased, the need of the militia diminished, until, so apparent did its uselessness become, and so obnoxious to those who could not spare the time, that, by a common decree of the people, who ridiculed the day in every way they could, it was abolished by the General Assembly. From the return of the troops from the Black Hawk war down to the opening of the railroads in 1855, but few things occurred out of the regular course of events. That war settled the Indian question in Illinois, and peace, with the red men in her borders, was the result. They were gradually withdrawn from their homes in the Prairie State, and, in a few years, none were to be seen. They followed the course of the westward sun, and seem destined, erelong, to be swallowed up by the mighty race which has taken their country.
Emigration set in anew to the West, and throughout the entire length and breadth of Illinois a continuous train of settlers poured in. Chicago was now coming into prominence, and Utopian visions of wealth began to dazzle the eyes of the denizens of Illinois. Before proceeding to note the rise of the improvement system and its inglorious end, we will notice two events of unusual occurrence which happened, and which many of the old residents in Mattoon Township will remember. The first of these is
THE METEORIC SHOWER.
A most remarkable phenomenon occurred on the night of November 12, 1833, known as the “Falling Stars,” which it will be well to notice here. It appears to have occurred all over the Western country, if not over the entire United States. Mr. Tremble gives a stirring account of it in his sketches, which we here reproduce. He says:
“ I was on my way home from a mill, west of Shelbyville, and had arrived at the cabin of an early friend and brother in the ministry, about four miles west of the town, then a village of about two hundred inhabitants. As I was twenty-six miles from home, and had only an ox-team, I desired the brother to get me up at 3 o’clock in the morning, so that I could get home that night. After a pleasant evening, we retired. My landlord was up at the designated hour, and, going out of the cabin-door, saw a sight that utterly bewildered him for a moment. All the stars seemed to be falling, and he at once concluded the heavens were falling and that the final day had come. Returning into the cabin, he aroused the family and myself, assuring us that the day of judgment had come, and for us to prepare to settle our accounts with our Maker. We were all up in a few moments, and beheld a sight never to be forgotten. The air was full of falling drops of fire, that immediately expired as they neared the ground. Sometimes they would alight on a leaf of a bush or tree, and go out with a peculiar noise, difficult to delineate in orthography. It sounded something like “tchuck,“ given with the shortest possible sound of the vowels. After gazing on the grand sight awhile, I asked the good lady to prepare me a little breakfast, while I fed and yoked my cattle. While I was eating my breakfast, the good minister remarked that he could not understand how I could eat so unconcernedly, when on the threshold of eternity. I noticed he was indeed in deep earnest, and sat part of the time with his head bowed between his knees, clasped in his hands, and apparently engaged in earnest thought. He arose when I prepared to go, protesting against my journey on such a solemn occasion, as the world would soon be on fire and the end of all all things be. I told him that if his conjectures proved correct, I might as well be out on the highway, driving my ox-team, as anywhere else. Bidding them adieu, I rigged my team, bestrode the near ox, and, with a flourish of ray whip, started. It was now about 4 o’clock, the air was a little cool, and a slight frost lay on the ground. At the start, I had nearly a mile of timber to pass through. The meteors were falling all around me as thick as hail or as raindrops in an ordinary shower. Some of them were so large they cast shadows on the trees. Many of them came in contact with trees in falling, and burst, throwing off a myriad of sparks, illuminating the forest all about me. It was the grandest freak of nature I ever beheld, and passes my powers of description. Emerging from the timber to the prairie, the sight was even more grand and inspiring. A rain of fire-drops came down. All about and above me, the air was full of the falling sparks, none of which touched me or my oxen. They would frequently fall nearly to the ground on some bush, but none touched me that I saw or felt, though I endeavored to catch some on my hand to experience a personal contact. None reached the ground that I saw all expired as they ; neared it. The storm of fire continued with no abatement that I could see until the approach of day, when the light caused it to gradually disappear, just as the stars retire on the approach of the morning sun.
“Just at daylight, I entered the village of Shelbyville, where I found the inhabitants grouped about the corners, discussing the strange wonder. Many appeared to be greatly alarmed. The opinion that the end of the world was at hand strongly prevailed. T did not stop to discuss the question with them, but left them to solve it as best they could, and went on my way. All along my journey homeward, wherever I met any settlers or travelers, the “fire ” was the theme. I could not explain it, nor could they. I could only think it was some freak of nature scientists might some day explain; but that the world was coming to an end, I did not much credit.”
These various meteoric showers have never been very satisfactorily explained. They have occurred at different intervals for ages, and for many years were regarded with supernatural awe by all classes of people. It is a common practice among the inhabitants of any part of the earth to so regard any unnatural phenomenon, which they cannot readily explain. The commonly accepted theory among modern scientists is that they originate in certain nebulous bodies revolving in space in a elliptical orbit about the sun, the aphelion of which meets the orbit of the earth at the time of its annual exhibitions. This is in a measure verified, as the showers appeared in less brilliancy for three successive seasons after 1833, and again in 1841, and in 1846. None were so brilliant by far, however, as the exhibition of 1833, whose grandest display was at Niagara, where it is said to have been of such remarkable vigor as to surpass comprehension.
The fall of meteoric stones is an occurrence often noted in the history of the country. The appearance of comets are also mentioned, which caused wide-spread alarm, many preparing to meet the judgment which it was positively asserted they portended. That event has never visibly occurred yet, and it is safe to conclude comets, meteors and other irregular heavenly bodies have nothing whatever to do with it. They are now pretty satisfactorily explained, and only the ignorant fear them. To those who study the heavenly bodies they are objects of great interest and are studiously watched.
THE “SUDDEN FREEZE.”
This curious, and yet unexplained phenomenon happened on the 20th day of December, 1836. By many, the cold winter of 1830-31 is confounded with this event. A great many births, deaths and other family matters are now settled as to date, by their occurrence before, at or after the “deep snow” or the “sudden freeze.” The 20th day of the month referred to had been rather warm. A slight rain fell during the forenoon, turning the few inches of snow on the ground into slush, and filling the creeks and ponds with water. About the middle of the afternoon, a heavy cloud was noticed coming rapidly from the northwest. It came at the rate of twenty-five or thirty miles per hour, as was afterward ascertained, and was accompanied with a terrific, roaring noise. As it passed over the country, everything was frozen in its track almost instantly. Water that was running in little gullies or in the streams was suddenly arrested in its career, blown into eddies and small waves by the wind, and frozen before it could subside. Cattle, horses, hogs and wild animals exposed to its fury were soon chilled through and many frozen in their tracks. Where a few moments before they walked in mud and slush, was now frozen, and unless moving about they were frozen fast. In some instances where individuals were exposed to the fury of this wave and unable to reach shelter, their lives were lost. One man was found afterward standing frozen in the mud, dead, and still holding the rein of his horse in his hand. He had apparently become bewildered and chilled, and freezing fast in the mud and slush, remained standing.
Mr. Elisha Linder, in speaking of this storm, says: “ I was near my house feeding some stock, when I noticed the storm-cloud approaching. Thinking it would be a severe windstorm and possibly rain, as it was misting at the time, I started to the house. I went as quickly as I could, but the storm caught me before I reached the door. It was so piercing in its coldness and so strong I could not walk against it. The water was frozen as it blew into little ridges, and the mud and slush soon became as hard as stone. A good many chickens and other fowls perished. No little suffering was experienced by many persons who were ill prepared for such an unlooked-for event.”
It is related of a young man named Samuel Munson, in the western part of the county, who had gone, or was going for his marriage-license, that, while on the journey he was overtaken by the wave, and, finding he could not cross the Okaw or one of its tributaries, turned his horse’s head up the stream and partly against the storm. He could not make the horse travel in the face of the storm and, dismounting, tried to lead him. He could not do this either. When he tried to mount the horse again, he found his clothing, especially his overcoat, wet with the rain of the forenoon, frozen so he could not mount. He threw it off, then hastily mounted his horse and started at a full gallop in the course of the storm, determined to find shelter before it was too late. Coming to a grove of trees, possibly Dead Man’s Grove, he saw a cabin, and, riding up to it, dismounted and went in. His hands and feet were by this time partially frozen, and he was so benumbed he could hardly talk. He was obliged to remain there overnight and to postpone the wedding a day or two.
Mr. Tremble and other old settlers who experienced this “sudden freeze,” all give a similar description and corroborate the statements made. The wave came from the northwest, passing over the central part of Illinois, lower down in Indiana, and is last heard of about Cincinnati, Ohio, where it arrived at 9 o’clock in the night, freezing some emigrant wagons and teams in front of a tavern at Lebanon, a few miles above Cincinnati, while their owners were bargaining for a night’s lodging. Its width was from about where Ottawa in Illinois now is, then barely started, to a short distance below Coles County. It is not heard of much above or below either place. Its origin has never been found, to our knowledge, nor has it been satisfactorily explained that we know of. Iowa was thinly settled then, and as it came across its northern border, we have only meager accounts concerning it there. It originated somewhere in the vast northwest, and only lost its force and fury when it encountered a warmer clime.
Returning again to the subject of emigration, the growth of the State and the internal improvements, we find Coles County, especially its western part, gradually filling with settlers. The scheme of building railroads and canals came now prominently before the people, and roused their expectations of future wealth and power to the highest pitch. As early as 1835, the subject received the attention of the Illinois Legislature, and in the message of Gov. Joseph Duncan to that body at the session of 1835-36, mention is made of it, and the General Assembly urged to act upon it. It responded in a manner exceeding the Governor’s highest anticipations. Immense preparations were made, great sums of money appropriated, and work began on the Illinois & Michigan Canal, and on several proposed railroads, among them the Illinois Central and the Terre Haute & Alton. The issue of so much money, based on the faith of the State, and its entrance into all channels of business, had the effect to draw an immense flood of emigration to Illinois, all anxious to share in the general prosperity. Somehow, the more the money was issued, the cheaper it became, and the dearer everything else grew. Acts of the Legislature in vain tried to hold it at and above par; but it steadily declined, until it reached 16 cents on the dollar in gold, and in some instances 14. Either the faith of the State was correspondingly below par or the money was cheap because it was too plenty. From the Solons of the day down to the most common class of people, all saw, in the start, wealth created out of nothing, only to see it gradually vanish before their eyes. As it declined in value, work began to stop here and there on detached parcels of the railroads, until finally on every road it was abandoned, and only with the wisest financiering was it kept going on the canal. State banks grew out of the scheme, and a currency, as fluctuating as varied, appeared all over the country. Merchants in New York were obliged to accept notes on banks in Illinois and Indiana, which they could only realize on by returning them through brokers to some place in the West, and get all they could out of them. The fall of the system and the consequent depression of business was keenly felt all over the State. Exorbitant values had arisen on every class of property, and when the shrinkage occurred, the losses were felt. No work was done on either the Central or the Terre Haute & Alton Railroads in Coles County; but the effects of the rise and fall of values were noted here as well as elsewhere. Money was as scarce as in the earliest pioneer times, and for awhile it looked as though ruin would be the result. The prairies were, however, naturally very productive, and though emigration for awhile shunned the State as if struck by a pestilence, it soon began to rally, and before a decade of years had passed the enormous debt was safely provided for, and prosperity of a real kind again came over the land.
It was not until after 1850 — more than twelve years after the first rail was laid on the track at Meredosia, on the Illinois River, on what is now the Wabash Railway—that the subject of railroads assumed a permanent, tangible form. In February of that year, the Chicago & Galena road was finished as far as Elgin, and a train of cars made the first trip from the city on the lake to the one on the Fox River. From this date, the erection of other roads began this time, by individuals. The State had enough of this experience, and did not care to venture again into such schemes. The Terre Haute & Alton was among those sharing in the revival, and, as some work had been performed on it, chiefly on the eastern and western divisions, a new company took the work, and, in about four years’ time, had it in running order. About the same time, the Illinois Central, through its magnificent grant of land from the General Government, came to a completion. These roads, crossing in Mattoon Township, formed the nucleus for a new town which capitalists were not slow to take advantage of, and the city of Mattoon was the result. Indeed, they had been watching to see where the crossing would be, and had located the town as soon as the question was decided, not waiting for the completion of the roads. As the history of railroads in the county forms a separate chapter, we will only refer to them briefly here.
When they were completed, much of the prairie-land in the township, and, in fact, all this part of the county, was yet open. It was still used for pasturage, and the settlements confined exclusively to the timber. The railroads opened the country, however, and from that time until all was taken, it was rapidly settled. The growth of the country went steadily forward from the time of the improvement period until the late war. By that time, it was pretty thickly settled. Mattoon Township furnished her quota of men for the fray, and the city saw a regiment depart from her midst gathered almost wholly in the surrounding country.
When the war closed, another season of great commercial prosperity ensued, owing to the sudden circulation of a vast amount of currency, based on the faith of the General Government. From this arose another series of fictitious values, and many farmers mortgaged their land to capitalists at a semi-annual interest of 10 per cent, expecting the “flush times” to continue. When the value of money came to the recognized standard, a shrinkage in values occurred, causing at the present time great difficulty among many to pay debts contracted on the currency basis. Many farms in this part of Coles County have been sold to meet these claims, realizing little, if anything, more than the amount loaned. The effect of all this will be to divide the large farms, and, ultimately, it will in that way be for the good of the county. The people of Mattoon Township are all engaged in agriculture, and, if a steady purpose in this pursuit is adhered to, no debts contracted beyond their ability to pay, and the same study devoted to that pursuit as is given to that of the law or medicine, abundant success is sure to crown the effort. Take it all in all, no occupation is so sure of a living, so independent and so safe as intelligent agriculture.
We will now retrace our steps somewhat, and note the
RELIGIOUS AND EDUCATIONAL INTERESTS.
We have purposely omitted any mention of churches and schools in the foregoing pages, intending those subjects for a separate chapter. The first settler in Mattoon Township, “Uncle Charley,” was a devout Methodist, and in his cabin the first praise and thanks to the Giver of all good were heard. Many of the others who came in 1827 were members of the same religious body, and, as soon as they could arrange their temporal matters, steps were taken toward the establishment of a church. James Graham, George M. Hanson, Miles H. Hart, Samuel Thompson, Barton Randall, George W. Rollins, and others among the early pioneers of Wabash Point, were in the local ministry of the Methodist Church, and all were earnest workers. The circuits were large, yet these men, laboring faithfully to supply their own wants, and avoid being any burden on the infantile settlement, went regularly on their rounds of preaching.
The places of worship at first were in the pioneers’ cabins centrally located, or, when the weather would permit, in some pleasant spot in the woods. The first benches were simply split logs, the flat side dressed smooth with a broad-ax, and supported by stout, short sticks for legs. No backs were made. When not in use, the benches were piled in a corner of the cabin-yard, until the time of service, when they were carried into the cabin and arranged to the best purpose that habitation furnished. The most interesting time among the adherents of this church was the regular camp-meeting. That was almost always held in the woods, as no cabin could hold a tithe of the crowd that gathered. A rude pulpit or platform was made, where three or four trees afforded a good place for one, benches were made and arranged over the ground in front, and the place was ready.
We have mentioned James Graham as one of the pioneer Methodist ministers in this part of the county. He was little a eccentric in his ways, and, withal, was not afraid to speak what he deemed right, even if the remarks touched closely on some weak brothers or sisters. A good anecdote is preserved of him by his colleague, Mr. Tremble, another local minister, yet living. As it illustrates other modes of life, we think it well worth a place in the history of the county.
Among the class of wandering tradespeople, or peddlers, were a set known as the “wooden-clock peddlers.” These were nearly all Yankees, regarded by the Southern people as a trafiicking, tricky set, ready to sell a wooden nutmeg or any other sham. They, in turn, looked on the Kentuckians as a lazy, shiftless class, subsisting on hog, hominy and corn-bread, and willing tools in their hands. The peddlers did not scruple in the slightest to cheat them, or any one, whenever they could. The cheating, in their opinion, was all right the; detection was what they feared. It seems these itinerant tradesmen had become a nuisance to the good residents of this part of the county, and had merited their disapprobation. Father Graham, among the rest, had suffered at their hands, and rather smarted under the treatment.
Their common mode of procedure was first to canvass a district, selling all the clocks they could, warranting them for a year or any length of time suitable to their scheme. In a month or so, they would retrace their route, starting from where they began with one clock, pretty well regulated. It would run three or four days very well, and that was all they wanted. Part of the original agreement was to replace the clock first sold in case it did not fulfill the warrant. In that lay the trick. When they reached the first customer, they found, as they expected and hoped, that the clock did not fulfill the contract, and they at once replaced it with the one they had, charging a small fee for the transfer and repair. Taking the clock they obtained here, they went on to the next place, where the process was repeated, and so on till the end of the route. For a few days the clocks went all right, and every one was delighted. But after awhile, when they, too, began to keep all sorts of time, the settlers began to grumble, and on comparing notes, discovered the cheat. The lesson, however, did not always bear fruit, as erelong they were caught on the wooden nutmeg, gilded jewelry and kindred appliances. They, like every one else, seemed often to forget that nothing good can be obtained for less than its value, however plausible the arguments in its favor may be.
While Father Graham was holding one of his camp-meetings, he was somewhat disturbed by one of these itinerant merchants, who not only being a cheat in business, was also a worthless character, and, as such, disturbed the meeting. Father G., after vainly endeavoring, by private means, to reform or get rid of him, determined to use decisive methods with him. At the morning service on the Sabbath, the good minister, in his prayer, closed as follows:
“Lord, thy servants have been wonderfully annoyed by the bad actions and wicked conduct of a fellow known all over this camp-ground as ‘Wooden-Clock Peddler.’ Lord, if it is possible there be mercy for such a wicked wretch, may he find that mercy to-day, so that he repent of his great wickedness, turn about and do better. But, Lord, if he is, as he appears to be, a doomed wretch, why suffer him to stay here as a hindrance to Thy great work? Lord, may he see that ‘discretion is the better part of valor,’ and leave forthwith. But, Lord God, if he will not leave, kill him a little on the spot, and save us from all wooden-clock peddlers forever. Amen!”
“If ever I saw,” says Mr. Tremble, “the eyes of a congregation turned in search of an object, in was the eyes of that congregation, when they arose from their knees at the close of the prayer.” But the “ wooden-clock peddler” was seen only in the distance making rapid strides for some other locality. He was seen no more on that camp-ground.
Enough adherents to this denomination had arrived by the year 1832 to warrant the erection of a house of worship. A site was chosen near the present Capp’s Mill, and the people gathering together erected a log church. This was rather a primitive affair, and for awhile served its purpose. The settlement formed a kind of nucleus around which gathered three churches, not to speak of those in Mattoon. This fact, in a measure, caused the Church here to disband, and gather into three others, all out of the township, save one, which again, about five years ago, erected the brick church, known as the “Little Wabash Methodist Church.” It is near the creek of that name, about four miles southwest of Mattoon. It is a very comfortable church, while near it was built a neat brick parsonage. The congregation numbers now about one hundred members.
Among the early settlers were several professing the Baptist and Cumberland Presbyterian creeds. The former of these built a church in Paradise Township, the first church there. It is referred to in the history of that Township. The Cumberland Presbyterians have maintained pretty regular services since their emigration, commencing before 1830. They have attended church at Paradise generally until lately and did not build a church in Mattoon Township until about 1873, when they completed a very neat frame edifice, at an expense of $1,600, which they now occupy. Theirs and the Little Wabash Methodist Church are the only two houses of worship in the township outside of Mattoon.
It has been rather difficult to determine the first year school was taught in the Wabash Point settlement, and by whom. There was probably a school taught in a cabin in the winter of 1827-28, or the next spring. Mrs. Elisha Linder says she recollects going to a school, she thinks, the next summer, and that James Waddill was the teacher. Mr. Tremble says in his sketches, that about 1831, Uncle Jack Houching, with a few other neighbors, undertook to burn brick, and built a small cabin for the benefit of the hands, just north of Mr. John Thomas’ spring. The brick project proved a failure and the cabin was abandoned. The settlers not long after appropriated the cabin for school purposes and fitted it for that purpose. Long slab seats, puncheon floor, and a writing-desk from “end to end” at one side, were put in, the fire-place made safe, and, taking out one of the side logs, covered the place left with greased paper, and the house was ready. The teacher, Mr. Tremble, too, thinks was James Waddill. He was paid so much per scholar, the idea of taxation for education not then prevailing. The price per scholar depended on the number of scholars promised. If twenty-five or thirty were subscribed the price was generally $2.50 or $3 each. The teacher commonly “boarded ’round,” a practice not now indulged in. Teachers were always hired by the quarter three months—and when they were not paid in money, accepted common articles of barter. Capt. W. E. Adams, in his Centennial Address, refers to this school as follows: The first schoolhouse in that section was a cabin, built in 1830. Before it was occupied as a school, a man named Ledbetter moved his family into it. Soon after this, George Hanson went down to order him out. Ledbetter, however, was master of the situation, and chased Hanson off with a meat-ax. Hanson, in his flight, stubbed his toe and fell down, and in his fall Ledbetter split the back of his coat-tail open with the ax. After school had been held in this cabin a term or two, it was removed to the old log church, built on the site of Capp’s mill or near it, and referred to in the history of churches just noted. This school was, it must be borne in mind, in Paradise Township. School was kept here, or in the cabins, until about 1844 or 1845, when the first schoolhouse, built expressly for such purposes, was erected in Mattoon Township. That was about the dawn of the present school system of Illinois. It had been agitated as early as 1827, renewed in 1835- 86. and a few subsequent Legislatures, but so distasteful was the idea of taxation to the southern portion of the State, that not until 1844-45 did the first permanent school law come into force.
This schoolhouse was used until the present one, erected during the war on its site, superseded it. It was not alone possessor of the field long. Other parts of the township began to fill rapidly with settlers, especially when the railroads were opened, and, as necessity required, houses were built. The opening of high schools in Mattoon gave additional facilities for instruction, which have, in a measure, been well improved.
EARLY MILLS, MILLING, ETC.
We have incidentally noticed the grater and mortar, and described their modes of use. Following these primitive mills, we will notice those that succeeded, viz., the hand and horse mills. The hand-mill was quite an improvement on the hominy-block. It consisted of two small circular stones, 14 or 16 inches acros the face, and made something like the millstones of to-day. The lower stone was made fast to some timbers, with a hoop bent around it and projecting some three or four inches above, forming a receptacle for the upper stone. This had a hole in the center, through which the corn was dropped by the hand, and was made to fit the under stone as well as the tools of the day could dress it. Near the outer rim, a hole was drilled into it about 1½ inches across, and of the same depth. Into this an upright was fastened, its upper end secured in the ceiling, or to some immovable piece of timber. The lower stone had a ¾ inch hole, drilled from 2 to 3 inches in depth, in the center, and a round piece of iron driven firmly in. Its top projected about the same distance above. The top formed a pivot, and by the aid of a flat piece of iron, was cut to a half circle, with flanges on each end, so as to fit the notches cut in each side of the “runner.” This iron was placed in the “eye” of the upper stone, generally called the “runner,” with the concave side down. Its under side was so notched as to fit the pivot and balance, so that when forced around it kept its place. These simple arrangements completed the outfit. When meal was wanted, a measure of shelled corn was placed near, from which the corn was dropped in by the left hand, while the stone was turned by the right. It was given a rapid motion, and, if heavy, both hands were used, and an attendant dropped the corn into the center hole. At one place, the under stone was sometimes made slightly sloping, and a spout inserted in the iron rim surround ing the stone, through which the meal was forced as it was ground.
It will be observed by the reader, that this kind of mill is spoken of in the Bible, only that the handle was commonly a foot or more in height. It is as old as the world, almost, and, in ancient times, was almost always operated by women. The Savior referred to the custom of women grinding at the mill, when He said, “The one shall be taken and the other left.”
The horse-mill was simply the hand-mill made too large and heavy for one person to turn, and was rigged something after the manner a common circular sweep is now made. To this a horse or mule was hitched and driven in a circle. It was often rigged with a pulley made of a leather band, and thereby given an increased motion. The hand-mill was also rigged with cogs and bands, and arranged so two or four men could turn it with a crank. It was tolerably hard work, but it was often the case that, when properly rigged in this way, a bushel of grain could be ground in forty minutes.
After the horse-mills came into use, the hand-mills were largely abandoned. They were too slow when a better way was known, and gradually came to be a a thing of the past.
It is not stated that any horse-mills were built in Mattoon Township. The older parts of the county had them first, and to them the settlers were accustomed to go. Many of the old settlers now living, well remember getting up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, preparatory to getting early to the mill, hoping to get there in advance of any one else, only to find, perchance, a whole “string of wagons ahead of them,” as they express it, and being obliged to remain a day or two awaiting their turn. No water or steam mills were built in Mattoon Township till after the city was started, when they were erected there. As their history properly belongs to the history of the city, the reader is refer-red to that, where the subject, as concerns this township, is concluded.
EARLY MAILS AND THE OLD STAGES.
The first mail facilities enjoyed in this part of the country were indeed quite meager. Letters were few and far between, while newspapers were a rarity. The postage, was, in the early days of post-routes, governed by the distance the letter was sent, ranging from five to twenty-five cents. After the express companies started and began to carry them at a cheaper rate, the Government lowered the cost from time to time until the present rate was established. The first post office, says Mr. Hiram Tremble, for the Little Wabash Point settlement was established at George M. Hanson’s, who drew up a petition for one, obtained the necessary signatures and sent it on to Washington. Capt. Adams states also, that this was the first post office in the county, and that it was established by George M. Hanson, who was the Postmaster. The office was named Paradise, in memory of Paradise Post Office in Virginia, in the county where Mr. Hanson was born. These two were the only post offices of that name in the United States. The office was located here in 1829, and remained with Mr. Hanson about two years, when it was removed to the State Line Road, just then being opened. There it was kept by Mr. William Langston, who had what was known as the “Relay House,” i. e., where the stage-horses were changed. This stage-road, or, more properly. State Road, had formerly been a trace or trail, simply a bridle-path, and led from Charleston to Shelbyville and on to Vandalia, the old State capital. At first the mail was carried on horse-back, and made a weekly trip. The road passed through Mattoon Township, a little north of the present village of Paradise: hence, when the post office was removed to Mr. Langston’s, it was still in Mattoon Township. It remained at the “Relay House” about two years, when it was taken to a little embryo town located on the Houtchin Farm, called Richmond, where G. W. Nabb had quite a store, in which the office was kept; Mr. Nabb, Postmaster. The office remained there till the Alton & Terre Haute Railroad was completed and Mattoon founded. There is considerable dispute among the old settlers concerning this post office and its frequent removals. We have given Mr. Tremble’s recollections, which some pronounce correct, while others think a little differently. It seems impossible to reconcile all the statements regarding it. The subject is further treated in Paradise Township.
After the stages began running, the mail was changed to a bi-weekly, then to a tri-weekly, and when the railroad came, to a daily mail. The old stagecoach was as much an improvement on the modes of travel preceding it, as the railway of to-day is an improvement on the coach. It was generally quite gorgeously painted, were made secure, and would carry just as many passengers as could get inside and on its top. This propensity to crowd stages has given rise in this day to the trite proverb, “There is always room for one more in a stage.” They were drawn by four horses commonly, but in times of bad roads six or eight would be hitched to it. The driver was perched on top in a comfortable seat at the front, and nearly always had a passenger with him. In times of good roads and fine weather, the driver’s seat was often sought, as it gave such commanding views of the country. When the fierce prairie storms abounded, and winter set his icy hand on everything, it required a brave man to face the contest. Not unfrequently drivers perished at their post in unusually severe weather. The most interesting time was probably in the spring, when the ground was thawing out. The soil of the prairies would sometimes freeze two or three feet deep, especially in low, wet places, consequently the thawing-out process reached down that depth, where it commonly met the perpetually wet undersoil, producing what was termed, in the common parlance of the day, a road with “no bottom.” Then it was, indeed, interesting to the passengers. First one side of the coach was down, then the other, alternately pitching the passengers right and left. About as soon as they got used to this mode of travel, the fore wheels would go suddenly down to the axle, and a forward lurch of the passengers followed. As they came up, the hind wheels went down, and a retrograde movement on the part of the passengers was the result. Relief from this alternate pitching arose only when an eminence was reached, or when the passengers walked.
Sometimes exciting drives occurred, especially when the driver wanted to give a team “all the running they wanted.” He would ply them with the whip, and keep them at a full gallop until completely broken of their desire to run away. If the road was a few inches deep in mud, the condition of the passengers, unless securely inclosed, can be well imagined. They came out of the race considerably sprinkled with the prairie soil. These days of the stage continued till the opening of the railroads in 1855, when they it farther west, only in time to be obliged to give way to the fleet iron horse, destined in time to entirely supersede it.
From the first settlement until society became established, the settlers were generally a law unto themselves. They were too remote from the county seat before Coles County was erected, and settled disputes among themselves. They were exceeding honorable in their dealings with each other, and rarely did occasion require of them recourse to law. When it did, the punishment was sure and swift. They abhorred the petty vices, stealing, lying, etc., and would completely ostracize any one found guilty. As all were poor and mutually dependent on each other, they were strict in their observance of the right, and would aid one another to the farthest extent of their ability, did he show any disposition to try to do for himself. At every house-raising all did their part; all wanted to, and should any one evince a disposition to shirk, he was made to feel his dependence whenever he wanted any help from his neighbors. Mr. Tremble says he does not remember of but one theft occurring in the neighborhood from the date of its first settlement in 1827, till after the first election in 1831. The theft and its punishment were characteristic of the times, and will suffice as a good illustration for the “court proceeding” of the day.
One of the settlers had killed a beef, and, to secure the hide, bent down a small sapling, attached the hide to the top branch, and allowed the tree to spring back to its place, bearing the hide aloft, far out of the reach of wolves or any other species of thieves. He never once thought of any person stealing it, and hence allowed it to remain in the tree-top over night. The next morning it was gone. By what means, he could not determine, but he felt sure nothing but a human being could have secured it. He sent word to a few of the neighbors, and soon word was all over the settlement that a theft had occurred; something so unusual, that all left their work and gathered at the settler’s cabin, determined to find the offender and give him his merits. By some means, the hide was tracked to its place of concealment. The guilty man was now to be apprehended, in case they could find him. He had been suspected, it seems, from- the start, for, in a scattered community like this, every one was pretty well known, and two citizens were deputed to search his premises. They returned in an hour or so, with the information that they could not find him, though they had given the cabin and its contents a thorough examination. The settlers were not satisfied, and a second search was instituted, in which all took a part. Under the bed, a puncheon was found displaced, and a lot of rags and old quilts substituted. Removing these, the thief was discovered between the floor and the sill of the cabin. He was at once brought forth, and a trial held. The tears of his wife and children could not avail now: the pioneers were determined to punish theft whenever found. One among their number was appointed Judge, another Sheriff, another Prosecutor, and a fourth, counsel for the defense. The trial was held under a large elm-tree in the east side of Dry Grove. Everything was conducted decorously, and, at its close, the prisoner was sentenced to receive thirty lashes on his naked back, at the hands of the Sheriff—and that at the close of the next two hours. Court was held about a mile from the prisoner’s cabin, and, before the execution of the sentence was carried into effect, he begged to be allowed to see his family. This was granted, and the Sheriff ordered to see him safely home and back. On the way to his cabin, he was informed by the officer that if he would leave the country that night, ’hook and line.” with the promise never to be seen in those parts again, he would let him escape. The Sheriff informed him that he must, however, run for life, for as soon as he started he (the Sheriff) would shout at the top of his voice, “ Stop thief! Stop thief!” By this time, they were out of sight of the Court, and the Sheriff, pointing one way, remarked, “That’s your course,” and away he went at the top of his speed. “The Sheriff” appeared to be after him, yelling with all his might. “Stop thief!” The Court, of course, heard, and, immediately forgetting its dignity, started, pell-mell, in pursuit. The prisoner, however, had the start, and made good his escape. He was joined by his family afterward, and was never seen again in these parts. He had, doubtless, learned a lesson he never forgot, and, it is hoped, one he heeded. It was, undoubtedly, part of the plan to allow him to escape, but to so thoroughly intimidate him that others would heed the lesson.
Whether the trial was just in its conclusions or not, and its mode of action commendable, can hardly be doubted, in the condition society then existed. Even were such methods adopted now, so thoroughly prompt and decisive, it is hardly an open question but that it would sometimes be better. After the county was organized, the processes of civil law were carried out, and, from that date down, we are not informed of any impromptu courts and court proceedings.
We have thus far narrated the leading events in the history of Mattoon Township. The history of its organization is given in the general county history, and, as it did not occur until four years after Mattoon village was established, we will proceed directly to the history of the city, and, in like manner, note its important events.
The town is the outgrowth of the crossing of the two railroads, and dates its beginning from that occurrence. When the original surveys for the railroads were made, it was predicted that a town would grow up at their crossing; but until the exact location of the routes was determined, no one ventured to purchase the ground and prepare for the expected village. It was at one time thought that the crossing would be made about two miles north of the site of Mattoon, and a town, to be called Arno, was laid out there by David A. Neal, of Massachusetts, owner of the land. The survey was made by John Meadows, March 14, 1855.
The routes of the roads were pretty certainly established by 1852, and in that year a company of persons, prominent among whom were Elisha Linder, Ebenezer Noyes, James T. Cunningham, Stephen D. Dole, John L. Allison and John Cunningham, purchased Section 13, in Township 12, and concluded to plat thereon a town. Two years elapsed before this was done, during which interval, Davis Carpenter, Usher F. Lrnder, H. Q. Sanderson, Harrison Messer, Samuel B. Richardson, W. B. Puell, Josiah Hunt and Charles Nabb obtained an interest, and, by direction of all these persons, a town was laid out on December 12, 1854, by John Meadows, then County Surveyor. It must be borne in mind that the grant of land given by the Government in aid of the Illinois Central Railroad (a full history of which appears elsewhere), included only alternate sections in the belt, and that, to equalize the revenue from the remaining sections, the price was doubled. These men, then, paid for Section 12 $2.50 per acre, which, considering the location, was certainly cheap enough.
No sooner was the survey made than preparations for building began. Men did not wait for a sale of lots, but went to the proprietors and selected such lots as they desired, began building on them, with the understanding that they be allowed them as their choice on the day of sale; that then they really be confirmed in their purchase. The first building brought on the town site was an old structure moved here from La Fayette Township by Blueford Sexton, and used as a kind of lodging-house, boarding-house and toolhouse. Anything that would in any way shelter a person was acceptable, and was, as they termed it, “better than nothing.” On the 28th day of March, 1855, the next spring after the survey. Mr. R. H. McFadden raised the first house erected on the site of Mattoon. It stands on its original site, on the south side of First street, just east of the Illinois Central Railroad track, and is now occupied by Mrs. Cartmell. The house, when built, contained two front rooms, one of which was intended for a store, and in it Flemming & Sexton opened the first stock of goods offered for sale in the town. This was done early in April, and by that time several other buildings were in course of erection. Afterward, Cartmell and Dr. Camp had a small drug store in the room, and when Mr. Noyes built a small brick store west of the railroad, the stock was moved there. Dr. Camp was deaf and dumb, and lived awhile in one half of Mr. Cunningham’s warehouse, built on the north side of the Terre Haute & Alton Railroad, before the sale of lots,occurred. The pioneer drug store was closed out in the little brick.
Two days after Mr. McFadden raised his house, an enterprising individual set up a little board shanty a short distance south of him, and began selling whisky and other compounds.
James M. True opened a store soon after. John Allison built a small land office; Ebenezer Noyes a small brick building on the ground now occupied by Mr. Tremble’s house, on West Charleston street; John Cunningham, a warehouse, in the eastern part of town, near where the car-shops are now situated. Michael Toby and others erected dwellings, and the lively times of frontier Western towns were indicated on all hands. Mr. Toby says he had been here in the fall before, looking over the ground, and decided to locate. In the winter, probably in January, he and a number of others met in a little shanty made of sod and plank, and placed near the crossing, then only located, where they examined the map of the new town and selected lots. They were all known as “Improvement lots.” paid for by putting so much improvement on each lot, for which, as yet, the plat not being acknowledged and recorded, no deeds could be made. He went back to the Kickapoo timber, where he was living, and, before spring, had erected two barns for some of the residents there, and had the timbers for his house ready. He came again to Mattoon when the building began, and, that summer, assisted in erecting a good many structures, as well as building his own house.
The sale of lots was extensively advertised by means of hand-bills sent all over the country. The 15th day of May was the day set, and on the 14th, the proprietors went to Charleston, where they acknowledged the plat before Eli Wiley, a Justice, and had it recorded.
On the next morning, a construction-train came over from Terre Haute, that railroad being completed this far, bringing a great number of buyers. All the people from the surrounding country came on horse-back to see the cars they had heard so much about, and which so many had never seen.
The auctioneer was Samuel Adams, of Terre Haute. During the sale, various races occurred between fleet horses and the locomotive and between one another. Foot-racing, wrestling, leaping and other things of such hilarious nature were indulged among the attendants who came to see, while not a few, especially among the ladies, were compelled to stand and hold their horses, there being no places to hitch, and no places, except in the unfinished houses, to find seats. The sale passed off very satisfactorily, a large part of the lots finding purchasers. Great expectations existed on the part of the majority of the purchasers: a large town, predicted they, would some day grace the high hill on which the city is built. All Western towns partook of the same spirit, but all were not successful in reaching their anticipations. The embryo village was by this time named. In casting about for a suitable synonym whereby it should be known to the world, the proprietors took into consideration the advantages accruing from the railroads, which had, indeed, been the cause of the town, and determined in some way to perpetuate their construction. The contracting firm for the Terre Haute & Alton road was Phelps, Mattoon & Barnes, of Spring- field, Mass. They had been extensive contractors, having built, in the previous decade, the Rome & Watertown, the Buffalo & Corning and the Watertown & Potsdam Railroads. The second partner, Mr. William Mattoon, was very actively engaged here when they were building the Terre Haute & Alton Road, and became quite well known along the line. In honor of him, the city of which we are writing received its name. He and Messrs. Dawsen and Messer were, in 1857-58, engaged on the towers of the suspension bridge at Cincinnati, and for a few years after, Mr. Mattoon was actively engaged in such pursuits. About 1859, he began to spend the most of his time at home, on his fine farm near Westfield, where he lived the remainder of his life, devoting himself to the raising fine stock. His herds of fine Devon cattle are said to have taken more premiums that any other herd in the United States. Mr. Mattoon died a few months ago. He will always be remembered by the old citizens here, whose city, as well as a street in Springfield, Mass., will perpetuate his memory.
After the sale of lots on May 15, the greatest activity prevailed here in the erection of houses. Lodging and boarding were very hard to get. Every one was “full,” and accommodations of every kind were brought into use. Labor was high, as it always is such times, and laborers flocked to Mattoon to share in the prosperity. Work on both railroads was carried on, and numbers of men found temporary homes here. The inevitable results followed. Whisky was brought on by unlawful persons, and a saloon started. To the credit of one or two of the contractors, it is to be said, they gave some of the saloon-keepers so long a time to leave—they left. But the temptation was strong and whisky, in one way and another, would come. It seems to be the inevitable follower of all frontier towns, and Mattoon was no exception to the rule.
Though the town had now a few stores, several houses, and a great many in the course of construction, it lacked that commodity of all towns, a hotel. Messrs. Sanderson and Carpenter, two of the original proprietors, were, however, preparing to supply the deficiency. As labor was high here, they had the timber all framed and put in readiness at Terre Haute, and on Sunday, June 30, 1855, erected the first hotel—the Pennsylvania House—in the town. It stood on the south side of Broadway, just west of the present Mattoon National Bank, occupying part of the ground now used by that building. It was already to put together when it arrived, and before night the frame was up. It had, however, been constructed like many another building, a little weak, and after the third floor and the rafters were finished, the structure gave way, letting that floor and the rafters down upon the second. Props and braces were immediately applied, and the disaster remedied. Not a few of the people expressed their disapprobation at the erection of the building on the Sabbath day, while some affirmed the falling of its upper story was a judgment sent on the builders for desecrating the day. The building probably fell because it was poorly constructed. Many persons stoutly affirm that this hotel was raised on the Fourth of July. All were agreed that it was raised on Sunday. The writer of these pages, with several others, made a calculation, based on an invariable rule in mathematics, and found that the Fourth of July in 1855 came on Wednesday. It was also found correct by several tests. The fact was then developed that it was raised on the Sunday previous, and opened with a big dinner on the Fourth. The hotel opened with a good run of custom, and for many years did a good business. Old people well remember it, and in its day it did an important work in the growth of the town. It gave way, finally, to the demands of trade, and the erection of better buildings, and was removed to give place to the present brick houses occupying its site.
While on the subject of hotels we will notice some of the subsequent ones erected.
The same summer the Pennsylvania House was built, another hotel, known as the Union House, was constructed on the ground now occupied by the Opera house. It was erected by a man named Bain, and was used for the stage office until the connection between each railroad was finished. This hotel was not completed till fall. It was known as the Kentucky House, and was kept by Mr. W. H. K. Pile, and after him by John Davis. Like the Pennsylvania House, it became a favorite stopping-place and enjoyed a good reputation, and it. too, like its predecessor, gave way before the march of improvement and is among the things of the past.
In the spring of 1857. Mr. Morgan Griffin came to Mattoon to superintend for a Mr. Radcliff, of New York, the building of the Essex House. Mr. Ebenezer Noyes, owned the most of the original plat of the town lying west of the Illinois Central Railroad, and gave Mr. R. the lot on which to erect the house. He was also to build brick business houses on the remainder of the block to the west end of the street. Mr. Noyes had about this time purchased Section 14 from the Railroad Company, intending to lay it out in lots. He had purchased for his brother. Dr. Frank Noyes, Section 15, in 1852, and had platted that in large lots. Between him and the proprietors of Section 13, the original plat of the city, arose an estrangement, resulting in his purchasing Sections 14 and 15, and platting them. The residents have always noticed the “jog,” or set-off in the streets running west from the end of Broadway. This was done when Mr. Noyes had the plat made. In the extreme efforts made between the East and West Towns to secure the center of town, considerable “wire-pulling “ was indulged, resulting in not the best of feeling. This, however, existed more between the proprietors, in their endeavors to further their own interests, than between the people, who cared more for a suitable location than anything else, leaving the ascendency of either side to regulate itself. In the erection of the Essex House, Mr. Radcliff failed to carry out the plan, and, after the walls were built, it came into the possession of Mr. Noyes, who completed it, built the rear addition, opened it to the public in 1859, and managed it several years. Mr. Daniel Messer, the present landlord, assumed charge in 1869. The house has always been a prominent stopping-place, situated as it is at the junction, and being occupied by the depot and ticket-office.
The hotels of after years may be briefly noticed. When the Essex House was built, it was the third brick building in town, others, however, began to appear, when the war of the rebellion came, stopping almost all operations until after its close. The other hotels erected are the City Hotel, the Everett House, now unoccupied, and the present Dole House. This latter is situated on the southeast corner of Broadway and First street, and was begun in 1868, by a stock company. Not long after, the Dole Brothers obtained control, and completed it in 1871. It was opened as the Mattoon House, under the management of John W. Hawley, now of the Everett House, St. Louis. As the Dole Brothers were the principal builders of the hotel, and, as it was opened by them, the name was changed in honor of them. On the 15th of March, 1877, Stubbins Brothers took charge of it, and, on the 18th of December, 1878, purchased the building. They have remodeled and improved it, and have secured a large part of the traveling public. A few other small hotels and boarding-houses complete the list. None, however, but the Dole, Essex and City Hotels are run upon the regular hotel plans, and these three may be said to transact the principal business in their line.
Going again to the early history of the time, we find the summer of 1855 one of great activity. Conley and Hitchcock opened a store among those that we have mentioned; the post office was established, and Mr. True made Post-master, with Mr. Thomas E. Woods as Deputy; a small schoolhouse was erected on East Broadway, and the life of Mattoon, in its various phases, was fully begun. Mr. McFadden and others yet living in town, state that, before the building season had closed, upward of one hundred buildings were to be seen, all of which were occupied that winter.
Through the winter, school was maintained in the small frame house alluded to. Religious services were conducted, principally by the Baptists, in each other’s houses, or in the schoolhouse, while a few ministers of other denominations came to see what could be done for their churches, and occasionally held meetings in some of the houses, or in the schoolhouse. The railroads were working to complete connections between the two incomplete ends, and the continued, active life of the town hardly abated any for the cold weather experienced. Before the holidays, the Terre Haute & Alton completed the remainder of their line, and, by January 1, 1856, trains were running from Chicago to Cairo, over the Illinois Central.
Some of the business houses were built in the northeast part of town, not far from where Mr. John Cunningham had his warehouse, and where a strenuous effort was made to secure the center of the business portion. Here Mr. Cartmell opened a small drug store, with Dr. Camp, the first disciple of Esculapius in the town, as partner. The inexorable law of business could not be broken here, and the center of town insisted on remaining near the railroad crossing. The holders of property in the eastern part of the village saw this finally, and gave way to the stern demands of trade.
The next spring, building began anew; business houses, dwellings and shops began to appear. The first permanent brick store in town was erected for True and Cunningham, by Mr. Michael Toby, then a builder, and, before winter, it was ready for furnishing. It is yet standing on the southeast corner of Broadway and Second street, and is now occupied by the meat-shop of Mr. John Hunt. It was the only brick built that season. Several stores were, however, erected, and more dwellings commenced, all of which were not completed before winter came; a few other shops were built, and Mattoon was coming to the front among Western towns. Another most important addition appeared in June, an adjunct that all Western towns demand, and that all get nearly as soon as they are started. We refer to the newspaper. In June, of that year, the Grazette appeared, setting forth the merits of the town and advertising its advantages. This was started by Mr. R. W. Houghton, on the 7th day of June, and, from its columns, considerable is gleaned respecting the young city, which is given in extracts from the paper published in the sketch of the press, further on in the narrative. The editor thinks the population of Mattoon can safely be put down at 5OO persons, and is certain of that number in an issue a year after.
That summer, the Baptists erected a small frame house of worship, and, during the winter, held regular services therein. They allowed other denominations to use the little church when they had no minister. The small frame schoolhouse had become entirely too small now for the increased juvenile population, and a larger and more comfortable brick structure took its place. It, however, was not erected till 1857 (some assert, one year later), and in the interim, the winter of 1856-57, school was taught in a room over Mr. True’s store and in parts of some unfinished buildings.
In the spring of 1857, ground was broken for the Essex House, which, when completed, was the largest and finest house in town. It was not, however, finished for two years. Its history has already been given, and need nut be repeated here.
This summer, the Methodists and Cumberland Presbyterians organized congregations, and began to hold meetings in each other’s houses, in empty store- rooms, or in a small hall that had been completed. A year or so after, they erected their houses of worship, and were joined by other denominations, the history of whose operations is given in connection with that of their churches.
In May of this year, 65 votes were cast for the incorporation of the town and 25 votes against the measure, making a total of 90 voters in the town limits. Assuming the usual ratio of voters to the population, this would give Mattoon fully as many inhabitants as the editor of the Gazette predicted, a year before, in his first issue of his paper.
In June, of this year, the limits of the town were greatly extended by the addition made by Mr. Ebenezer Noyes. He, as has been noticed, purchased Section 15 for his brother, in 1852, at the land-sale when the original plat of Mattoon was purchased, and had this laid out in acre tracts. Some of these had now been sold, as “great expectations” were fully indulged in by the inhabitants of the embryo city. He purchased Section 14 from the Central Railroad, at a good price per acre, as the officers of that corporation were fully alive to the prospects of Mattoon and the nearness of their section of land. As has been intimated, Mr. Noyes and the proprietors of the east side of town could not agree; and, when he platted Section 14, he made a “jog” in all the streets, and gave new names to those running west. Hence, when Broadway reaches the western limits of the old plat, it suddenly turns northward and goes on west under the name of Western avenue. All streets in this addition conform to this rule, and cause no little wonderment on the part of strangers who do not understand the cause of the difference.
The life of Mattoon from this date on down to the war bears with it but little history. Several churches were erected; a good schoolhouse built in each ward, an account of which appears in the history of education and religion further on in these pages; a few brick stores were built; one or two mills and an elevator or two appeared; a bank opened: dwellings were erected in all parts of town, and its life varied but little from the regular growth of all Western towns.
In looking over the files of newspapers of this period, the Grazette being joined by the Journal, several interesting items are gleaned.
We learn that a fire company was organized in March, 1861, and that the Council appropriated $1OO for buying three dozen buckets and other appliances. The following were the officers of this company: Ebenezer Noyes, President; H. F. Kelley, First Director; P. J. Drake, Second Director; Carson Knight, Secretary; Edw. A. Thielens, Treasurer; B. N. Skelton, G. F. Bateman and John Nabb, Standing Committee: Rufus Noyes, Mes- senger.
Whatever service this or any succeeding fire company performed is not recorded by the papers. It is a fair inference, however, that this, or whatever companies succeeded it, did their share in putting out fires. The city has never been well supplied in this respect, and to-day no organization exists, nor is there any provision made to support one. A fire starts, and is simply allowed to burn out. An expensive fire department might not be advisable; but an organization could be supported by volunteers, a hook, ladder and bucket brigade be easily kept up, and much valuable property saved. It is argued that it is cheaper to let the buildings burn, and get the insurance. That will be practically demonstrated, some time in a dry season, if a fire starts in the west end of town, and, fed by a strong west wind, burns out the entire business part of Mattoon. It has been done in other towns, and may occur here.
While on this subject, it might be interesting to note briefly some of the principal conflagrations that have occurred here.
In the sketches following these pages, some account of the destruction by fire of mills, elevators and such structures is given. Here we will notice what pertained to the residence and business portion. The papers chronicle the destruction, on Sunday morning, January 1, 1866, of a house owned by Mr. E. Regan, whose loss was nearly $5,000; his insurance a little over $3,000. The same fire destroyed the stock of Mr. Fitzgerald, a baker and confectioner, whose loss was $2,300, but whose insurance was $4,300. Everharty & Co. lost $500, less the insurance of $300; while others lost, in the aggregate, $5,000.
The Journal of September 4, 1867, records the loss of Hart & Co.’s livery-stable, on August 26, with all its contents, including seventeen horses, eight carriages and buggies, and a mow full of hay. The loss was fully $6,000. on which only a small insurance was carried. Many of the horses belonged to citizens of the city. The fire spread from the stable to Col. H. L. Hart’s residence, immediately south, which was also burned. Fortunately, the wind blew from the north, keeping the flames away from Broadway, else the loss might have been dreadful.
The same issue of the Journal records the destruction, on the Wednesday night before, of the residence of Mr. Ephraim Orr, in the northeast part of the city. The Journal states that the building was known as the “Cartmell House,” built by Mr. Edward Cartmell in 1855; also, that in it Gen. True kept a stock of goods and the first post office in Mattoon. Gen. True was Postmaster, while the editor, Capt. T. E. Woods, was Clerk, and Deputy. The loss on this building was about $1,500.
Under date of November 9, 1867. the Journal chronicles another destructive conflagration—this time, the large agricultural warehouse owned by Ebenezer Noyes. It was probably set on fire by sparks from a locomotive passing at night, and it was some time before it was discovered. Two of Mr. Noyes’ sons narrowly escaped burning, as they were asleep in the building at the time, and did not awaken until near too late to save themselves. One of them, Eben, was badly burned before he was rescued. The building was a huge three-story frame, and made a great light. The loss on the building was $6,000, and on the stock was $3,000. The insurance was about $5,000. leaving a large loss.
Other prominent fires were the destruction of John Cunningham’s elevator, the elevator just north of the Essex House, a mill or two, nearly all of which are mentioned in a chapter devoted to that subject.
Last winter, during the excessive cold weather, five serious fires occurred, almost one after the other. As no organized effort toward the extinguishment of fires exists, they were allowed to burn out. The same occurred in the month of February, when Mr. Walsh lost his dwelling.
Aside from the calamity of fire suffered in Mattoon, the place has, once or twice, been visited by severe storms, one of which deserves mention. In September, 1864, a great storm occurred, occasioning a very serious loss of property, and, in some instances, several persons injured. The Journal of September 28 gives the following account of the storm:
“This place was visited, on last Friday evening, by one of the most terrific storms ever known in this part of the State. Dense, reddish-black clouds made their appearance, a little north of west, about 3 o’clock, and in less than ten minutes the storm burst upon us in its wildest fury, tearing down awnings, blowing down and unroofing buildings, and scattering about everything movable. The flying dust was so thick and the darkness so great, that one might well imagine that the very clouds had descended to the earth and lifted every particle of loose earth. The damage in town was great, yet we do not suppose it more than equals that in the country, where houses were unroofed and fences and corn leveled to the ground in great number. The following is the list of the principal injuries, as far as we have been able to learn, within the corporation limits:
“M. E. Church, two-thirds unroofed and windows and plastering much broken. Damage, about $1,500.
“Smoke-stacks of Thomas Jennings woolen-factory and T. Alexander’s flouring-mill blown down.
“Mr. Hutton’s new two-story frame house, partly finished, leveled to the ground.
“Fence to Smith & Jones’ lumber-yard blown down and thousands of feet of lumber and shingles blown away and broken up.
“Shed, formerly warehouse to Monroe’s store-building, blown down.
“The new brick of Dole Brothers was much damaged, the window-facings of the east and south sides and several feet of the wall being blown down.
“The wooden awnings in front of Wilson, Bro. & Co., P. J. Drake and two or three other establishments on the east side of the Illinois Central Railroad, torn from their fastenings and hurled into the street.
“In the west part of town, Mr. Cullom’s house was twisted off the foundation, nearly all the furniture broken, and William Waggoner’s house was wrested from its foundation and badly smashed up.
“John Walkup’s new two-story house, unfinished, moved from its foundation and badly injured, as was also the residence of J. Vallandigham.
“The smoke-stacks of Muchmore & Co.’s planing-mill and Jones’ flouring-mill were blown down, and it was with great difficulty the planing-mill could be prevented from burning.
“Chapin & Pilkington’s lumber-yards badly scattered, and much lumber broken.
“The houses of P. Hennessy and R. M. Bridges were both leveled to the ground,
“The Essex House was badly damaged, all the chimneys and two-thirds of the iron roof of the north side stripped off, and the whole upper story exposed to the furious rain which followed. Sheets of iron ten feet long were carried more than a hundred yards, one of which was hurled through the show-window of Mr. Drakes store.
“The stairway leading to the second story of Francis & Drake’s store, which was on the west side of the building, with a high board fence on the north and a two-story brick on the west, was lifted from its place and hurled back nearly twenty feet, the wind having sucked down and lifted it out.
“Chimneys, out-houses, stables and fences were blown down by the score all over town, and a number of windows broken by flying fragments. Thirty or forty feet square of the roof of the M. E. Church was carried, rafters and all, completely over the residence of Mr. Ellis, just east of the church, and fell a little south of the church, mashing down over seventy-five feet of fencing, knocking off a chimney and breaking twenty-four panes of glass out of his windows. About twenty feet of the roof was taken nearly one hundred yards almost due south of the church.
“In the country nine miles west, the two-storv residence of James Munson was moved from its foundation and badly racked, and that of Jesse Armentrout entirely demolished, as were several other buildings in the same neighborhood. Corn fields and fences were all leveled, and in many fields scarcely a blade is left, and even the corn is blown off the stalks.
“The residence of Thomas Meredith, three miles west, was also blown over and one of the corner-stones moved ten feet.
“The track of the storm seems to have been almost directly west to east, and about nine miles wide, having left its terrible marks all the way from Hillsboro to Paris, over one hundred miles. We understand that the M. E. Church and several other buildings were unroofed at the former place, and from the Paris Beacon and Blade we learn that a part of the steeple of the M. E. Church was blown off, falling through the roof and damaging the building about $1,500. The Presbyterian Church was also severely injured, many other houses blown down, and much other damage done at that place.
“We have not learned of much damage being done at Charleston and other towns along the line, but have no doubt it has seriously injured all towns lying in its pathway.”
A few other storms have swept over the prairies of Coles County in the years since it was settled, but none so fierce as the one recorded are mentioned in its annals.
We must not omit a mention of the part the city took in the last war. Mattoon and its surrounding populace were largely in favor of a subjugation of that part of the Union favoring its dismemberment, and many of her bravest citizens left home and dear ones to protect a nation’s honor, and save the flag all loved so well. The war of the rebellion opened in 1861. The first company to respond to the call for troops from this part of Coles County left Mattoon on April 15, 1861, for Springfield, where they were to be mustered into service and to be attached to their regiment. Before their departure, they were served with a sumptuous dinner at the Pennsylvania House by Mr. McKee, the proprietor, and were presented with a flag by the ladies of Mattoon, and each officer with a bible and each private with a testament by the Masonic orders in town. The committee of ladies who presented the flag was composed of the following persons: Misses Kate McMunn, Mollie Tobey, Helen Messer, Sarah Aldrich and Mrs. Maggie Duncan and Mrs. McKee. Mrs. L. Villie Malone made the presentation speech to the boys, who responded through Lieut. Edward True, as Capt. James Monroe was then in Springfield.
Capt. Monroe, while at Camp Yates, on April 25, was presented by his friends, through C. Knight, with a fine sword.
“On Tuesday, May 14,” says the Journal of that year, “ a regiment was organized and sworn in by Col. Grant, a camp established and named Camp Grant.” No allusion to the famous man who afterward led the armies of the Union is made. His prowess had not yet developed.
The regiment remained here, drilling for some time, but as soon as it was fully ready it was sent to Springfield and from there to the service.
While the regiment was encamped near Mattoon, the town was generally rather lively. Soldiers, out on a short pass, not uncommonly got rather too much whisky in them, and, in that condition, were not always what they should be. Civilians known to be favorable to the Southern States were not unfrequently compelled to subscribe to oaths or other declarations, not at all in conformity with their sentiments. No riots occurred in Mattoon, as in Charleston, or, at least, none worthy of record, and, as the veil of peace is now drawn over all these scenes, we do not care to lift it, but think that they, as well as several tragedies occurring in Coles County, are better forgotten.
We will now retrace our steps somewhat, and, in a measure, note something of the municipal life of Mattoon. The city was incorporated under the general law of the State, in June, 1857, when 65 votes were cast in its favor, and 25 against. It continued under that organization, states our authority—an advertising sheet issued by Jerry Toles, an insurance and real estate agent. May 1, 1866—until 1859, when a city charter was obtained from the Legislature, which, as amended, was in force when the aforesaid sheet was published.
From an examination of the newspapers of 1860 and 1861, we learn that an election was held in Mattoon on Monday, April 1, 1861, under the provisions granted in the new charter during the winter previous. From the provisions of the charter, we learn that the word “Town” shall be changed to “City,” and “Trustees” to “Councilmen.” Evidently the advertising sheet of Mr. Toles is a little premature in its statements. As he issued his sheet for advertising purposes, it is natural to suppose he desired to clothe Mattoon with the title of a city as early as possible. The town charter was liberally amended in 1859, but no city created, as is shown in the charter quoted. This charter, in its second article, provided that “members of the City Council shall have had six months’ residence, be a bona-fide freeholder at the time of his election, and shall have paid a corporation tax in said city during the preceding year. Whenever he ceases to be a freeholder in said city, his office becomes vacant.
The election was ordered to be held annually thereafter, on the first Monday in April, when a President, six members of a City Council, City Clerk, Treasurer and Street Supervisor should be elected.
All persons were entitled, by the charter, to vote for State officers who “have paid a corporation tax to the city during the year immediately pre- ceding the election, and have resided in the corporation ninety days previous to the election, were entitled to vote for city officers.’”
The Police Justice and Constables were each to be elected for four years.
The tax and labor collected from persons on the west side of the Illinois Central Railroad was to be distributed there, while that on the east side was to be distributed there. The Gazette, in its first issue after the election, gives the following account of it: “Below we give the result of the municipal election on last Monday. We did have some conscientious scruples as to publishing the particulars of the bungling affair, but, since we heard of the double election which our Paris neighbors held on the same day, we have concluded that the Parisians can’t ‘poke fun at us’ over our blunders, and, consequently, we may as well publish.”
The new city charter as amended — declaring who were and who were not legal voters, which clause did put a flea in somebody’s ear—very mysteriously got lost while in the President’s keeping, just at the time when the first election under it was to be held, and as it was the only legally attested copy of the charter in the possession of the Board, as a matter of course the opponents of the new franchise took the opportunity to annul the election. After sweating and quarreling on the morning of the election till nearly 11 o’clock, the Board having declared the election postponed, the “sovereign” people concluded to have an election of their own. An election was therefore immediately called, clerks and judges of election duly appointed, and the voting began. The voting was, of course, done indiscriminately as far as having paid taxes was concerned. The following is the result:
For Police Justice, James T. Smith; Police Constable, James L. Taylor; President, James Monroe; City Council—T. C. Patrick, Samuel Smith, D. M. Turney, L. Chapin, D. C. Higginson and C. A. Powell. Clerk, B. N. Skelton; Treasurer, A. Hasbrouck; Street Supervisor, B. F. Keely.
The vote for and against license was small. For license, 80; against license, 77.
Mattoon remained Under this form of government, with various alterations made as the city grew, until the last week of February, 1879, when at an election the charter was so changed that the city passed under the general incorporation law of the State, and under that law is now governed. The principal changes relate to the election of officers, many of which are now appointed, and to the redivision of the city into wards. This latter move is now agitated, but it is not likely to be adopted for some time. The governing power still rests in the Council, and in place of the people electing several subordinate officers, that body appoints them.
Thus far in this narrative, we have omitted any mention, save incidents, of mills, manufactories or the general business of the city, as well as its churches, schools, newspapers and societies, leaving them for separate articles. In this way more complete, and, at the same time, more condensed, descriptions can be given, and also in a better and more explicit manner. They show much of the history of the city, but are not given with that view being intended for the objects they treat.
We shall, therefore, leave the narrative of the city and devote the remainder of this history to the subjects we have mentioned.
ELEVATORS, MILLS MANUFACTUARIES, ETC.
John Cunningham’s elevator, built in the spring of 1855, before the sale of lots, was the pioneer of such enterprises in Mattoon. It was, as time eventually proved, too far from the natural center of town, the railroad crossing, and was finally abandoned. Four or five years after, Mr. Cunningham built a substantial brick warehouse north of the railroad crossing, on the west side of the Central track, and just south of where Moneypenny’s mill now stands. This was quite a firm building, and was one of the best to follow in chronological order the Essex House. It stood till Sunday night, March 19, 1865, when it was destroyed by fire. It appears to have been the principal elevator in town until it was destroyed.
The elevator of Jennings & Co., still standing, comes next in the annals of the town. It was built about the close of the war by the present proprietors, who are the oldest grain merchants in Mattoon. One of them and Mr. H. M. Tremble, built a small warehouse where the express office now stands—the second enterprise of the kind in town. It was a small building, and was used as such for a few years and then removed. South of it stood the old pork-house of O’Connell & Co., brought from near Cincinnati, the pioneer enterprise of that kind in the city. It was burned after a few years of service. Near it was the large well over which the city and Central Railroad had such a vexatious lawsuit. The controversy over the well was finally settled, and it is not at present regularly used.
Just before Mr. Cunningham built his brick elevator, Luther Miller moved an old pork-house from Terre Haute, Ind., and set it up north of the proposed site of Mr. Cunningham’s elevator. About 1861, the pork-house came into the hands of Hudnot & Co., who remodeled it, and opened a hominy-mill in the building. This they operated with varying success until 1864, when the building came into the control of Cox & Miller, who again changed its interior and opened a plow-factory in it. This was conducted for two or three years, when Capt. Hinkle obtained possession of the building, and opened a corn-meal mill in it. This enterprise he continued two years, when he retired, and the present parties obtained control. Mr. Moneypenny now operates the meal- mill and has a very fair trade.
The Pacific Mill, noted in the papers as the pioneer mill of Mattoon, is in the southwest part of town, on the St. Louis Railroad. It was built in 1862, by Charles Jones, who operated it four years. It remained idle then for more than a year, when it was purchased by Ira and D. D. James, who re-opened it and operated it until the summer of 1878, when, the business not proving profitable, they discontinued it. The mill is now idle, but yet in the hands of the Messrs. James.
Cox’s Mill, a little west of Money penny’s mill, is at present unoccupied. It was built by Steadman & Demuth, in 1869 or 1870, who operated it two or three years, when it came into the possession of Hiram Cox, the present owner.
James’ Elevator was built in 1868, by Ira and D. D. James, who have been more or less connected in the grain trade in Mattoon many years. They have controlled their own elevator until their failure in 1874, when it and the Pacific Mill, operated by them since 1866, went into possession of Greer & Co., for whom they now operate the elevator.
The City Mill — sometimes called Union Mill—was built in 1862 and 1863, by T. C. Alexander & Co., at an expense of $12,000. They operated it until 1864, when Col. J. Richmond purchased one-half interest in it, which he sold, in 1867, to Mr. Curtis. Under his control, it was run till February. 1875, when Col. Richmond and J. H. Clark bought the mill. In the fall. Col. Richmond purchased the entire concern and has been operating it since. It is the principal flouring-mill in the city, and does the majority of grinding for the country about Mattoon.
It might be well before leaving this subject to notice a few of the elevators and mills that have been destroyed by fire. Mr. Cunningham’s elevator has already been noticed. A large elevator was’ built just north of the Essex House by Richards & Co., about 1860. It stood only a few years, when it was entirely consumed by the relentless element. It was at once rebuilt by the same firm, who sold it to Day, Sprague & Co., who did business there till about 1873, when the same calamity befell it. No attempt was made to rebuild the third time.
About the same year it burned, the Watkins Mill was erected, just west of the foundry, by James Watkins. After running it about two years, the mill caught fire, and, in spite of its unusual facilities for extinguishing fires, it suffered the fate of some of its fellows.
These mills are the principal ones erected in the city. A few others have been built, but, proving unprofitable, were in a few years converted to other uses.
The first machine-shop or foundry was built by James Wolfe, in 1863 or 1864. He kept it about three years, and sold to Charles Pomeroy, who continued it till the Lenox Foundry was built, in 1872, when he moved it away. This latter foundry was built by William Lenox, the present proprietor, the year referred to. It is the only enterprise of the kind in town, and has a very fair custom.
The largest machine-shops in Mattoon are those operated by the Indianapolis & St. Louis Railway. They were built here in 1870, and were brought to Mattoon on a guarantee of that city of a bonus of $60,000 in bonds. The vote on this question was held on April 4, 1870, and was decided by 517 votes in favor of the appropriation to 10 against it. The bonds are payable in three equal installments, one-third in ten years from the date of issue; one-third in fifteen years, and one-third in twenty years. The shops were removed from Litchfield soon after the bonds were guaranteed, and have since been operating. They are in the northeast part of the city, on ground donated them, occupying several acres.
From a statement of the Master Mechanic regarding their capacity and operations, the following items are taken:
The machine-shops are 110x204 feet, with eight repair-pits. The power-room, 40x50 feet, adjoins this building. The store-room is also adjoining, and is 40x60 feet in size. The car-shops are 85x204 feet in size, with six repair- tracks, and, with the machine-shop, get their power from an 80-horse power engine. The blacksmith-shop is 50x150 feet, has sixteen fires and is furnished with one 1,500-pound steam hammer. The boiler-shop is 50x80 feet, and has three repair-tracks. The paint-shop is 44x228 feet, and has two repair-tracks. There are twenty-one stalls in the roundhouse. It is furnished with one of Greenleaf’s Machine Works turn-tables. The transfer-table is 27x180 feet, and connects with the tracks leading into the different shops. The tank and oil room is 40x40 feet, has four water-tubs, with a capacity of 60,000 gallons each, filled from a reservoir one-half mile south of the works. The buildings are all of brick, with slate roofs, save the paint-shop, which is of frame.
All are heated by steam save the paint and blacksmith shops. The shops in their arrangement are unsurpassed in the West, and turn out nothing but the best of work. Over two hundred men are employed here, in addition to nearly one-half that number employed in the repair-shops at Terre Haute and East St. Louis. The monthly pay-roll at Mattoon is about $23,000, the material used each month costing about one-half that sum. The money distributed at these shops is in a measure nearly all spent in the city. Could other factories be induced to come here, and by their work aid in affording employment and business, Mattoon would be greatly benefited by it.
A few other factories have been in existence here. We refer more particularly to the woolen-factory, operated from the close of the war until 1868 or 1869, and which, for awhile, had a good trade. The brick building is now idle. It certainly ought not to be so. If not wanted for the purpose for which it was built, other use might be made of it and the property made to pay some revenue. When people learn that small things, closely attended, are profitable, the large farms about Mattoon will disappear, more attention will be given to details, and the remedy for hard times will come of its own accord.
The other and remaining industries of Mattoon are various shops of all kinds found in all towns. To describe them is unnecessary here. They came with the first house in the place and will remain while it lasts.
The first bank in Mattoon was established in 1858 or 1859 by James T. Cunningham, John Cunningham and Thomas A. Marshall, and 0. B. Ficklin, of Charleston. It was founded, under the existing laws of that day, as a private bank, did not issue notes, and confined its business mainly to loaning money. It occupied a room in a frame building, where Kahn’s clothing store is now situated. It continued until the financial depression occasioned by the failure of so many State banks a year or two after it was started, and, owing to this suspension, was obliged to close its business. In the fall of 1862, Pilkington & Green opened a bank in the building vacated by the former bank, using their safe and fixtures. This they continued until January 1, 1864, when the firm was changed to Pilkington & Co., the members of the firm being Mr. Pilkington. C. G. Townsend and W. B. Dunlap. The bank was removed two or three doors west of its former location, and under the new management continued till May 1, 1865. The national banking system had now been devised, and it was decided to organize a national bank. A number of wealthy gentlemen met, subscribed the necessary funds, purchased the business, fixtures, etc., of Pilkington & Co., and as soon as the arrangements were perfected, opened the First National Bank. It was opened on the above date—May 1 with a capital of $60,000, with the privilege of increasing to $200,000. That fall, their present building was completed, vaults were put in and a time-lock placed on the safe. The Directors were C. M. Dole, William Miller, Samuel Smith, J. C. Dole, I. R. Herkimer, Hiram Cox, Alcaizo Eaton, L. Chapin and S. W. True. Mr. C. M. Dole was chosen President; Mr. True, Cashier, and Mr. Dunlap, Teller. Mr. True resigned the cashiership early in January, 1879, and Mr. Dunlap was elected to the vacancy. He remained in this position until January 1, 1874. When the Mattoon National Bank was organized in July, he was elected President. He resigned the Cashier’s place to engage in the real estate and loan business, as he desired a more active, outdoor business. He was only nominally President of the Mattoon National Bank, drawing no salary, and after a few years’ work in the position, he sold his stock in this bank, and went entirely out of the business. When he left the First National Bank, Mr. C. G. Weymouth was elected to the Cashier’s office, having been promoted to that position from the Teller’s place. No change was made in the bank’s otficials until the spring of 1878, when Mr. Dunlap was again elected to the Cashier’s place, which he still holds. Mr. J. E. Steele is Teller. Mr. Dunlap was elected President of the bank, but declined, and Mark Kahn was chosen. He held the place until January, 1879, when he resigned, and William B. Warren, of Terre Haute, was elected.
The capital stock was reduced to $50,000 not long since, that amount being abundant for all purposes; all doubtful paper was thrown out and properly charged, and now the bank is in an excellent condition, with a large surplus.
The next bank established in town was by Hinkle & Champion and Mr. M. B. Abell. It began business May 1, 1866, under the name of the Merchants’ and Farmers’ Bank, in a room now occupied by Craig & Craig as a law office. It continued business till a few years ago, when it failed, and closed. Mr. Dunlap, as Receiver, wound up its affairs.
The last bank, the Mattoon National, was organized July 1, 1874, with the following officers: W. B. Dunlap, President, and James H. Clark, Cashier. The Directors were E. B. McClure, J. Richmond, John Rapp, Moses Kahn, G. T. Kilner, M. Walsh, T. C. Patrick, Joseph H. Clark and W. B. Dunlap. Two of the Directors afterward sold their stock— W. B. Dunlap and M. Walsh, and two, Moses Kahn and John Rapp, died. The stockholders met and elected S. B. Gray, J. F. Drish, S. Isaac and A. J. Sanborn in their places. W. B. Dunlap sold his stock in November, 1877, and retired from the Presidency. The Directors elected Joseph H. Clark to the vacancy, elected E. B. McClure Vice President, and chose W. A. Steele as Cashier and George Robinson, Teller. These officers are yet in the bank. It has an abundant capital, a large surplus, and is doing a good business. When the Merchants’ and Farmers’ Bank suspended, this bank lost some money through the failure of some of its borrowers, who were obliged to suspend owing to the failure of that bank. These losses and all doubtful paper have been charged up, and now only the best of paper is held. This bank and the First National are the only two in town, and are all its trade will justify. Both are well backed, and are careful to conduct only a legitimate banking business.
An examination of the amount of business performed at the various railway offices in Mattoon shows a good average with all towns in Central Illinois. Up to the war, the business of the town was all the time on the increase. For the first years of that conflict it fell off, owing to many men being taken from various pursuits of life to enter the array. As the war progressed, business again revived, and building, which had in a measure ceased, was renewed with great vigor. When the war closed, business of every kind experienced a forward move seldom equaled. It was in a measure unhealthy and too rapid for permanent benefit. For awhile after the war closed, buildings went up in Mattoon—this time of a substantial character—with something like the days of its earliest exist ence. When the re-action came, Mattoon experienced it keenly.
The Journal states that much building is going on; that the hotel—Dole House— is contemplated; also, two churches, and that the prospects are favorable for a large city—something every hamlet in the West confidently expects, and cannot understand why outsiders do not see such a result is inevitable. The element of hope enters largely into American character, and is nowhere more strikingly exhibited than in the average editor’s opinion of his own town.
The Journal, further on in this article, gives a valuable table of heights of towns in Central Illinois. It is worth reproducing, and we give it entire:
“Mattoon is 740 feet above the level of the sea, 158 feet above Chicago and the lake, and 458 feet above the rivers at Cairo. We are just one foot above Champaign, 66 feet above Pana, 176 above Decatur, 19 above Bloomington and 142 above Galena. There is only one point between Chicago and Cairo higher than Mattoon, viz., Monee, about thirty-five miles south of Chicago, which is 54 feet higher than our city, being 794 feet above tide water. There is not a point on the St. Louis, Alton & Terre Haute Road so high as our city by many feet.”
From the foregoing statement, it will be observed that Mattoon is, in a measure, a ’city set on a hill.” If she follows the injunction of Holy Writ, she will doubtless let her light shine. This can be done in more ways than one, not only in a Scriptural sense, but in a material one, by showing an activity in business and solidity of purpose that will count in the future.
THE POST OFFICE.
To show the life of the Mattoon post office, we subjoin the following statements:
The second Postmaster was H. L. Taylor, the next Joseph Brady, who was followed by R. W. Houghton, M. W. Wilcox and J. H. Clark, the present occupant. He was appointed May 5, 1869, and is now serving his third term. When Mr. True was Postmaster, there were four daily mails, now there are ten. There are about 700 letters daily received, in addition to the papers, periodicals and miscellaneous packages.
The sale of stamps for the year 1878 amounted to $5,726.91. The amount of money-orders issued for the week ending February 8, 1879, was $546.08. Those paid amounted to $2,034.28. As many more orders are paid than issued, Mr. Clark holds a balance of $2,000 in the New York office to draw against to make up the deficiencies. Some idea of the business of the office can be obtained by computing, from the amounts given, the business for a year. When we remember the few mistakes occurring, we can truly marvel at the excellency of the post office management. There are 1,100 open boxes and 211 lock-boxes. The income from the boxes is about $800 per year.
CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS.
It has been already noticed in these pages that a church was built in Mattoon the second summer of its existence. That pioneer church is yet standing, and is still used for the purpose for which it was erected.
It was built by the Baptists—“Old Line,” as they are commonly termed here—in the summer of 1856. After their disbanding it was sold to the United Brethren, when they organized a congregation in town (having been in the country previously), and was used by them until their disorganization. Then it went into the hands of Michael Tobey and J. S. Mitchell, as Trustees, by whom it is yet held. The Calvary Baptists had made, during this time, several unsuccessful efforts to organize a congregation, but not until January, 1876, were they able to effect a permanent union. Early in that year, they met in Mr. U. T. S. Rice’s office, and by him were organized as a congregation. There were but seven members. These were Mr. and Mrs. Rice, Jonathan A. Tuffts, wife and daughter, S. K. Sanders and George Clark and wife. Soon after, they were joined by Mrs. Joseph and Mrs. Sinsebaugh.
For three years, they met for divine services in a hall over Hasbrouck’s hardware store, Mr. Rice being leader a good part of the time. Not long since, they leased the old church built in 1856, which they now occupy. Their membership has nearly quadrupled since the organization. Their present Pastor is Rev. W. S. Dodge.
The First Missionary Baptist Church, the oldest congregation of this denomination in the city, was organized December 25, 1863, with twenty-eight members, prominent among whom were Mr. and Mrs. Roach, Mr. and Mrs. Baker, Mr. and Mrs. Hays, Mr. and Mrs. Davis, Mr. and Mrs. Newcomb, H. J. Streator and wife, and Mr. and Mrs. Frazer.
The organization was effected in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, where they continued to meet for nearly a year. They then leased the old church, and used it one year; then Cartmell’s Hall; then to a hall over South’s store; then to Union Hall, in which place the first steps were taken for the formation of the present Calvary Baptist Church by several of the members withdrawing for that purpose.
In 1870, the congregation built their present house of worship, and have been holding regular services therein since. From the date of the establishment of this church to the present time, more than three hundred members have been connected with it. It is the nucleus around which have grown the churches at Willow Creek, Ǣtna, Kickapoo, and one other congregation.
Rev. J. W. Riley, who was present at the Recognition Council, January 30, 1864, has been the Pastor, with the exception of six years, when he was at other places. During this interval, the pulpit was filled with supplies nearly every Sabbath, and services regularly sustained. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in the summer of 1857. In the spring of that year, Rev. Joel Knight, a minister in this denomination, began preaching in Mattoon, one Sabbath in each month, in the Baptist Church. On the 23d of August, twenty-seven persons, professing adherence to the doctrines of this Church, met and organized themselves into a congregation, and signed articles of confederation. The following is the original roll of membership:
Alexander Montgomery, H. Clay Warthon, James S. Cunningham, Edw. W. Cartmell, Sarah A. Mount, M. Craig, R. D. Montgomery,* J. W. Rankin, Washington Engle, Mrs. Lucinda Montgomery, Mrs. Sarah Montgomery, Mrs. Eliza Craig, Edw. Hall, W. H. K. Pile,* Mrs. N. I. Pile,* Mrs. Scintha Mount, John J. Walkup, Mrs. Margaret A. Montgomery, Mrs. Mary E. Montgomery, Jefferson M. Hall,* Mrs. Amanda J. Hall,* James Kelley,* Mrs. Mercy Kelley, Rev. Peter Duncan, Mrs. Manning Duncan and Mrs. Nancy E. Morrison. Of these, but six are now connected with the congregation. Thirteen have removed, and eight have died.
* still a member.
On the 27th, the congregation met and elected Alexander Montgomery, H. Clay Warthon and Edw. Hall, Elders, and W. H. K. Pile, Clerk.
At the fall session of this Presbytery, the congregation was taken under its care, and Rev. Joel Knight employed to preach one-fourth of his time, and, for two years,’ services were held, most of the time, in Cartmell Hall.
On February 27, 1858, James T. Cunningham, H. Clay Warthon and W. H. K. Pile, were chosen Trustees, and during the following spring. Rev. George O. Bannon, from Kentucky, preached for the congregation. Rev. Peter Duncan was also employed, and while here, in 1860, his death occurred.
On November 1, 1859, Rev. J. W. Wood began his work in this church, preaching each alternate Sabbath. He remained one year, and was succeeded by Rev. James Ashmore, who filled the pulpit until the fall of 1861.
In the spring of that year, preparations were made to build a house of worship, and in June, the corner-stone was laid. The address on this occasion was delivered by Rev. J. W. Wood, assisted in the ceremony by the two ministers who had succeeded him here. The church was not completed, owing to the breaking-out of the war, and other matters, until 1865. It was dedicated in 1867, by J. B. Logan, D. D.
In the summer of 1862, Rev. S. R. Roseboro was called, remaining eight months. The records of the congregation do not show any progress from this time until the close of the war (1865), nor the names of the ministers. In March of this latter year. Rev. Mr. Wood was again called, and remained until March, 1866. In June, 1857, Rev. T. K. Hodges began preaching, remaining one year. In December, 1868, Rev. W. S. Langdon came. On the 12th day of October, 1869, he died, in his room in the basement of the church. He was taken to St. Louis, Mo., for interment. Rev. E. J. Gillespie was called to the vacancy, and remained two years. He was followed by R. W. Hooker, who stayed nine months. In April, 1875, Rev. A. B. McDaniel came. He remained one year. In June, 1876, Rev. R. J. Beard was called. He remained two years and three months. In November, 1878, the present Pastor, Rev. E. M. Johnson, began his ministry.
From the time the congregation was organized until February 17, 1879, there have been 348 members received. Of these, 35 have died, 168 have been dismissed and gone, and 145 remain.
The church is a convenient brick structure, on East Broadway, and has been in continual use ever since its erection.
The Christian Church was organized in March, 1859, with seventeen members, of whom one only, Mr. Zack Robertson, is now connected here. The organization was effected by Elder John Mathes, of Bedford, Ind. Services were held in halls and the members’ houses, until 1860, when they erected their present church. The growth of the congregation continued uninterrupted until 1870, when between thirty and forty members, living principally on the West Side, withdrew from the church and established a congregation there. They erected a small frame church, and continued as a separate body until 1878, when they re-united with the old church, from which time there has been one organization. The small house of worship on the West Side is now used as a mission chapel.
Since the establishment of the Christian Church in Mattoon, fully five hundred members have belonged to it. Many of them are now, however, removed to other places, some are dead, and some fallen away. There are now nearly two hundred members.
The principal Pastors have been Revs. Black, Frazier, Adams, Streater, Lucas, Stewart, Roberts and Mason. The present minister is Rev. E. J. Hart.
The German Evangelical Association was organized in 1868, with seven members, by Rev. Matthew Keiber. For the first three years, they met in a hall in the west part of town, and were supplied by ministers from other parts of the circuit. In 1870, they began the erection of their present house of worship, which was completed and occupied the next year. It is a small frame structure in the southwest part of Mattoon, convenient for the members.
The congregation has increased but little in its membership, the removals and deaths equalizing the accessions. They are yet unable to support a regular ministry, and are supplied every other week by Rev. M. Kahl, the minister in charge of this circuit.
The Unitarian Church was organized December 22, 1867. After holding meeting in the members’ houses and in halls, for a few years, the church disbanded and services were discontinued. In 1872, another effort was made and a new organization effected, mainly through the efforts of Rev. J. L. Douthit, of Shelbyville, and a few of the old members who still adhered to the principles of this denomination. They began the erection of a very neat brick church on Western avenue, which structure they completed the next year. Their first regular minister was Rev. George A. Dennison, who came in the spring of 1873, and remained two years. Since his departure, they have been supplied occasionally only, and have not maintained regular services. They are at present without a pastor, but an effort is being made to revive the work here and build up the church.
The colored residents of Mattoon sustain two churches, the oldest of which is the Methodist. This was organized in the spring of 1866, with about a dozen members, by Rev. Smith Nichols, the present Pastor. That summer, a frame building was purchased, remodeled, and made into a comfortable church, and is yet used. The membership has more than doubled, and the prospects of this congregation are good. Rev. Nichols remained with the church from 1866 to 1868. He was succeeded by Revs. Alexander, Knight, De Pugh, Hand and J. T. Neace. He is now serving his second pastorate.
The Colored Baptist Church was organized in 1871 or 1872. It, not long after, obtained a small frame building, which it has since used as a church. It is in the western part of town, where most of the people dwell. Regular services are now held, both colored churches supporting good Sunday schools.
The Church of the Immaculate Conception—the Catholic—stands in the northwest part of Mattoon, and is the only one of that denomination in the. city. It was organized soon after the building of the railroad began, and has since been sustained. The membership is quite large, as it includes all baptized persons in the Church, of whatever age. Following the policy of the Catholic Church at large, this congregation established a parochial school soon after it was organized. Their present school-building, contiguous to the church, was erected in 1865. The school is under the charge of the Ursuline Sisters, and draws many children from the public schools. This is clearly evidenced in the reports of the Superintendent of the West Side schools.
The Presbyterian Church was organized on May 27, 1860, with twenty members. They were Mrs. Mary E. Bridges, Mrs. Martha M. Bridges, Mrs. Betty Johnson, W. E. Smith, John A. Forline, David Forline, Mrs. Betty Dora, Rae M. Bridges, Mrs. Rebecca Boyd, Miss Frances A. Boyd, Miss Orphio E. Boyd, James Boyd, D. T. McIntyre, Miss Cyntha Vanzant, ilobert Campbell, Mrs. Robert Campbell, Mrs. Margaret Keely, Mrs. Martha A. Smith, Mrs. Martha J. Vanzant and Mrs. Mary E. Boyd. The meeting to organize was held in the old Methodist Church, in the northeast part of town. Rev. J. W. Allison and Rev. McFarland appear to have been the first preachers here, both of whom, with Rev. Samuel Newell, of Paris, and Rev. R. Mitchell, of Charleston, assisted at the organization of the congregation. Afterward, Dr. A. Hamilton was elected Pastor, and the erection of a church determined. Prior to the organization of this Church, the New-School Presbyterians had effected an organization, and were using halls, or churches of other denominations in which to hold their meetings. The Old-School Presbyterians completed their house of worship in 1864, dedicating it Sabbath, July 31. The dedicatory sermon was preached by Dr. Hamilton, the Pastor. In the afternoon. Rev. Venable preached, and in the evening, Rev. Hendricks. The congregation grew well during Dr. A. Hamilton’s pastorate, extending till January, 1866, when, owing to failing health, he resigned. The pulpit was filled by supplies till September, 1870, when Rev. W. B. Noble was called as Pastor. He remained till April, 1872, when he resigned, and was succeeded, the following January, by Rev. Henry W. Woods, who was installed May 6, 1873. He occupied the pulpit till the spring of 1875, when he was succeeded by the present Pastor, Rev. James L. McNair. A short time after the erection of the church, in 1864, the New-School Presbyterians built a house of worship on the East Side—the Old-School being in the West—and continued worshiping there. In the autumn of 1871, these two branches of the church were united—having been separate over forty years—and one congregation in Mattoon was the result. At first, both houses of worship were used, but, a vote being taken, it was decided to use only the West Side house, and, soon after, the East Side church was sold to the Congregationalists, who now use it. The West Side house of worship was used without any alteration until two or three years ago, when owing to the increased growth of the congregation, an addition was built to the east end, and the seating capacity very much enlarged.
The Congregationalist Church is the outgrowth of the union of the Old and New-School Presbyterians, in 1871. Many members in the New-School branch favoring the Congregational mode of worship and discipline, organized a church of that body, and raised some $800 to aid in the attempt. The building erected by the New School Presbyterians was soon after purchased, and has since been used. The Council of the Congregational Church met on March 10, 1872, and regularly constituted the Church. On the 1st of the following January, Rev. N. J. Morrison, then just released from the Presidency of Olivet College, Mich- igan, was called to the pastorate of the Church. He remained only six months, resigning to accept the Presidency of Drury College, Springfield, Mo. In October, 1873, Rev. A. L. Loomis was called to the pulpit. He remained until May, 1876. During his residence, a revival occurred, greatly increasing the membership. The next Pastor was Rev. P. P. Warner, who came in January, 1877, and remained until August 15, 1878, when he resigned. He is now publishing a paper in Aledo, Ill. He was succeeded by the present Pastor, Rev. A. M. Thorne, in October.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1857 with about twelve members. They met at first in dwellings and halls until about 1800, when they erected a very substantial house of worship in the northeast part of the city. It was then expected the center of the town would be here; but future revelations dispelled this idea, and in 1870, it was determined to erect a larger house of worship and in a more convenient place. The present church was the result. It cost about $12,000, and is a very neat building. The congregation is now quite large, and sustains an excellent Sunday school.
In addition to the churches enumerated, others, now abandoned, have existed. Some few societies exist, but of so passive a nature, they are omitted.
The schools of Mattoon form a chapter in its history equal in its importance to any part or parcel of the city. Contemporary with the start of the town, a school was provided, and, before the cold of winter came in the year 1855, a small frame schoolhouse was built in the eastern part of town on Broadway. The efforts of the principal proprietors of the infantile village were strenuous, indeed, to secure the center of town there, and built the schoolhouse where the greatest part of the population was expected to be. A school was taught in this small frame, hardly as large as an ordinary country schoolhouse of to-day, during the winter of 1855-56, and so great was the influx of population that the little room was crowded to its utmost. School was taught here but one term, as far as we have been able to find out. The room was too small, and was hardly used longer. The school was, of course, a subscription school. If any public money was obtained it was only a small amount, for the idea of supporting schools in this part of Illinois entirely by taxation, was not yet well entertained. The next year, another similar school was “kept,” as we are told in an unoccupied room, and, the following winter, over True’s store and in some unfurnished house. The recollection of old persons is not very good on this point; they were more interested in “corner lots,” than to notice very closely just where the schools were (for one room could not contain the pupils, and any one could teach who could get a room and some pupils). The next year—summer of 1857— a very comfortable brick structure was built in the northeast part of town, not far from where the first Methodist Church stood. This second schoolhouse was a decided improvement. It would seat many more pupils than its predecessor, and though “private” schools began to flourish, it held its way. It began to receive considerable aid, enough at least to conduct it through the winter term, from taxation, steadily growing in favor. The private schools, as they were termed, came rapidly into use in the early history of Mattoon, and continued with more or less force until a few years ago. The most noticeable of any of these was started on quite an extensive plan, even going so far as to obtain a charter. We refer to the Male and Female Academy. It was in truth two institutions, known more extensively as Mat- toon Female Academy and Mattoon College. The former was intended for young ladies, the latter for young gentlemen. Referring to the papers for the period of their commencement, we find they were chartered February 21, 1863. On March 24, 1864, the Trustees met and organized, elected a President and chose teachers. The Mattoon College does not seem to have been put in very extensive working order, and in a short time appears to drop out of notice. The great obstacle in the way of both these institutions was a lack of means. Neither had any money to work on, and the town was too young and too poor to endow them. They began in 1858 or 1859, and worked some time before receiving their charters. In December, 1861, Prof. W. W. Gill resigned the care of the seminary, which had at all times the largest patronage, and was succeeded by Rev. D. F. McFarland, who leased the Harris Building and opened school on the second day of the month his predecessor left. He conducted it some time with reasonable success, but, failing to make it profitable, left. It was afterward under the care of Mrs. C. E. Gill, who continued it some time. Owing to an inability to support the school, and the erection of new and better ward schools, with their increased facilities for education, their free tuition and freedom to all, the academy and all private schools were gradually abandoned, and now none are sustained.
The public school continued along in the brick building referred to, with little change, save the gradually improved methods of education, and the division of the school into two or more grades, as circumstances allowed, until a new house was erected on the West Side, about 1861 or 1862. This divided the schools and assisted greatly in properly classifying them. The building on the West Side was erected by that ward and put under an entirely separate control. The two schools were made independent of each other, and have continued so to this day. The building on the West Side was an improvement on its predecesser of the East Side. It was a very commodious brick building, contained four rooms, was supplied with a bell, improved seats, blackboards and all the machinery of the modern schoolroom of the day. It occupied the entire block, affording the children plenty of room in which to play. It was used without alteration until the spring of 1871. By that time, it had become too small for the increased demands of the growing city, and a new one was decided upon. The members of the Board of School Trustees that spring were B. C. Hinkle, J. M. Riddle and J. M. Hall. Under direction of this Board, the present house was erected. The old one was simply remodeled and enlarged, and fitted with still more advanced furniture. It contains five rooms, and a commodious hall in the third story. Here the high school receives instruction, and here are many of the entertainments. When this building was erected, a small one-roomed building was constructed a little west of it, for the use of the colored children; but finding it impracticable to educate them thus, and failing to provide them equal advantages with the others, they were admitted to the graded school, and the building erected for them moved to the school-yard and used for primary scholars.
The school is divided into four departments, viz, primary, intermediate, grammar and high school. The primary department has three grades. In. each of the other departments, the pupils are divided into three classes, designated as Class A, Class B and Class C. The teachers are: P. H. Deardoff, Ph. M., Principal; Miss Maggie Ewing, Assistant in the high school; Miss Nannie Myrick, intermediate; Miss Jennie D. Riddle, third primary; Miss Minnie Jennings, second primary, and Miss Annie Riddle, first primary.
The brick building on the East Side continued in use until the erection of the present one, in 1865. It became apparent, however, before that date that better accommodations would have to be provided, as the house used was by far too small, even when aided by one or two rented rooms. It was decided to borrow 110,000 on city bonds, and an election was ordered to be held October 26, 1864. At that time, there were 421 children in the district of lawful school age. The bonds were voted for by a majority of 80 votes, and soon after the site was selected and work on the new building begun. It was completed in November, 1865, and opened for school on Monday morning, February 5, following. It contains five rooms, and a large hall in the third story, similar to the one on the West Side, and used for similar purposes.
The town continuing to grow, this building was found inadequate to supply school room for the increasing school population of the East Side, and another building was erected in the southeast part of town in 1877 and 1878. It contains four rooms, and is under the care of the Superintendent at the other building.
Ten teachers are employed, whose wages, including that of the Superintendent and janitor, amount to $4,740, for eight months of school. The teachers are: C. W. Jacobs, Principal; Miss Lizzie Dorland, high school; Miss Carrie Riddle, Miss Eva Lowe and Miss Lillie Osborn, grammar school, sixth, seventh and eighth grades; Miss Helen Patterson and Miss Lavina Ewing, intermediate department, fourth and fifth grades; Miss Mollie Phillips, primary department, and Miss Julia Pulsifer, Miss Ida Woods and Miss Mary Oushman, same department, in the first, second and third grades.
On Saturday, June 7, 1856, Mr. R. W. Houghton issued the first number of the Mattoon Gazette, the initial copy of newspapers in the city. It was a seven-column, four-page paper, one of the original copies of which is now in possession of Mr. Leonidas Chapin. a resident of the western part of town, and who highly prizes this relic of early days. His regret now is that he did not preserve the entire files of the paper.
In glancing over this old copy, many interesting items are gleaned. In his “salutatory,” Mr. Houghton says:
“We design publishing a good family newspaper—one whose information can be depended upon as reliable. In politics we are independent—committed to no party.“
After giving his reasons for this stand, he says: “There are many matters of vital importance to our moral advancement, our educational system and the agricultural interests of this mighty people which demand the attention of the press, giving a broad field for operation outside the political arena.“
He goes on to say that he will give particular attention to commercial and agricultural reports, and adds, “we have now launched our bark, weighed anchor, and hope to accomplish the voyage, even though we have occasion- ally to contend with tides and adverse winds.”
Speaking of Mattoon in an editorial, he notes its geographical position, its railway facilities, its markets and the good country about it. He says the town is a “stripling of less than a year’s growth, and taking into consideration the difficulties of procuring building material, and the unusual sickness of the last season, its growth has been rapid. A great many buildings are now in course of erection and many more are projected.“
Commenting on the prospects of the village, the paper proceeds: “We know of no place which offers greater inducements for the improvement of capital than this. Houses of all kinds are in demand at the landlord’s rates, and everything else demands good prices. No branch of business seems to lack customers. In fact, we have all the elements necessary for the building-up of a good inland town, in conjunction with a firm determination on the part of the inhabitants to make it thrive.
Farther on, he says:
“We have now eight or ten good stores, nearly all kinds of mechanics, several warehouses, two good hotels, a printing office, and a population of from four to five hundred.”
Referring to railroads, the editor writes:
“We understand that the Superintendent of the Illinois Central road has decided on the construction of a Y and side-tracks, freight-house, etc., on the east side of the road, north of the T. H. & A. road. The latter company, we are informed, intend laying a side-track on the south side of the road, in the east end of town. The two companies, in conjunction, intend to build a respectable passenger-depot on the opposite side of the track from the T. H. & A. freight-house.”
He hopes that this will soon be done, as he intimates there is an urgent necessity for it. The erection of the Essex House, the next year, probably put an end to such intentions.
The editor quotes from the Indianapolis Daily Sentinel the nomination of James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, as President, and Breckenridge, of Ken- tucky, as Vice President, in the Democratic Convention at Cincinnati. He also notices the election of Directors for the T. H. & A. Railroad, as reported by the Paris Blade, and the robbery of the post office at Vincennes, Ind., quoted from the Gazette of that town. After giving a few other general items, he proceeds to fill the balance of the second page with advertisements.
A. Francis informs the citizens of Mattoon that “he is now opening at the store opposite and nearest the depot, another choice stock of spring and summer goods, of almost every kind and description, and that he will keep on hand constantly the best brands of flour.”
Norvell & Brother announce that they have just opened a “saddle and harness shop, west of the Central Railroad, over the Gazette office,” and that their terms are “exclusively cash.”
A. Engle announces the “Mattoon House now open, and that he is ready to receive the patronage of the public, and afford them a home, at reasonable terms.”
Thomas McKee advertises that “the Pennsylvania House has recently changed hands, and has been very much enlarged and otherwise improved by painting and papering it throughout.”
Mr. W. H. K. Pile says that “the Kentucky House, at the comer of Second and Broadway, will furnish supper, lodging and breakfast for $1, and that he will give one meal for 35 cents.”
H. M. Tremble & Son “announce to the public that they are receiving dry goods of every description, hardware and cutlery, groceries, boots and shoes, clothing, cordage, carpenters’ tools, farming utensils, rich and fashionable bonnets: all of which we offer for sale cheap for cash, or in exchange for corn, oats, wheat, rye, rags, butter, eggs, tallow, beeswax, and, in short, everything in the produce line, at market prices.”
S. Knight & Co. deal in lumber, shingles, lath, timber and dressed lumber.
Conley & Hitchcock have the largest advertisement of any firm. They report new style prints, new style poplins, sugars and other groceries, summer clothing, boots and shoes, and everything to be found in any other store. They give market reports, from which we learn prices paid then for different articles bought and sold. Wheat is reported from $1 to $1.50 per bushel; corn, from 12½ to 15 cents; oats, 20 cents; potatoes, $1 and $1.25: timothy-seed, $2.25; cornmeal, 25 cents per 100 lbs.; butter, 12½; eggs, 10 cents per dozen coffee is; 14 cents per pound; sugar, from 10 to 15; bacon is reported from 7 to 10 cents per pound, beef at 7 and 8 cents; chickens are worth $1.50 and $2 per dozen; rye is worth 50 cents and 60 cents per bushel; hay, $6 per ton; whisky, 85 cents per gallon, brandy $4.50, wine $4 and gin $2.50, when bought by the barrel.
This description includes almost all noticed in this first issue of the paper, referring to Mattoon. The rest of the paper is devoted entirely to foreign matters—no local items noticed. Probably Mr. Houghton did not have time to gather any. He appears to have all his paper but one page printed elsewhere—probably in Terre Haute, as much of the advertising is from there, and some of it is inserted twice. The paper is quite creditable for the start, and we are sorry that no second copy was preserved so its advance could be noticed.
The Gazette was announced to appear every Saturday, and carefully fulfilled its contracts. Mr. Houghton, who had been a printer in Terre Haute, and had published a paper in Greenup until the county seat was removed, continued with the Gazette until autumn, when he sold to Dumas J. Van Deren, and returned to a farm near Greenup. He remained there and in the town till the spring of 1857, when he moved again to Mattoon and purchased the Gazette of Mr. Van Deren. He conducted the paper till the fall of 1859, when he sold it to McIntyre & Woods and removed to a farm near Majority Point. Shortly afterward, Mr. Woods sold his interest to W. P. Harding, and the firm of Harding & McIntyre, who took charge of the Gazette. Mr. Houghton returned the third time to Mattoon after raising one crop, and again secured an interest in the Gazette. He subsequently enlisted in the One Hundred and Twenty-third Illinois Volunteers, and lost his life in an engagement on the 18th September, 1863. When he went to the arrny, the paper continued under McIntyre & Harding’s control, the latter gentleman as editor until February 1, 1861. July 19, 1865, Mr. McIntyre sold to J. 0. Harding, and the Gazette came under the charge of Harding Brothers.
When the war broke out, J. 0. Harding enlisted first in the Sixteenth Indiana, afterward in the Seventy-ninth Illinois. He was taken prisoner and confined in Libby eighteen months. On his return from the war, he came again into the Gazette office on July 19, I860, with his brother. The firm of Harding Brothers managed the Gazette until June 20, 1866, when the junior member sold his interest to Mr. C. B. Bostwick, and Harding & Bostwick conducted the paper until May 29, 1867. At this date, Mr. Harding sold his interest to Mr. Bostwick, who managed the Gazette until July 10, 1867. A radical change in the paper occurred at this date. The Democratic party had for some time been desiring a paper, and when Mr. Bostwick sold, it was to a committee of prominent citizens of that political party. They changed the name to the Mattoon Democrat and its politics to their own. They employed Charles W. Dunifer as editor, who remained but a few months, when he was succeeded by a Mr. Crouch, who remained in charge only two or three months. The adventure not proving a success, the committee desired to sell. They found a purchaser in the persons of Taylor & Bowen, who changed the name to Mattoon Clarion. They, however, were not able to pay for it, and, soon after, the establishment was sold at Sheriff’s sale, and the materials moved to Sullivan.
When Mr. Bostwick sold in 1867, he contracted to stay out of the printing business five years, and, the time expired, he returned and concluded to revive the old Gazette. He and George B. McDougall purchased a new outfit, and, on the 16th of August, 1872, they issued the first number. They also opened a job office in connection with their paper, and soon had a good business. They continued together until January. 1874, when Mr. McDougall sold his interest to Mr. Bostwick, who has since conducted the Gazette. It is a large-sized, eight-paged paper, and has an excellent reputation and circulation. The office is fitted with a good steam-power press, two job presses, power paper-cutter, ruling machine, and all the material necessary for doing all ordinary commercial book and blank work.
The Journal was established November 1, 1865, by W. O. Ellis. He, in his editorial “salutatory,” defines his intended position; refers to the fact of the late war; to his position regarding it ; to the desire he entertains for peace; to the cause of education, which he hopes to see fostered in the town; to the growth of trade and the encouragement of manufactories, and to the general advancement of the city wherein he has cast his lot.
The editor notices the fine weather of that fall: the discharge of the Thirty-third Illinois, at Vicksburg; the granting of 8,000 pardons by the President, and the fact of there being 20,000 still on file. Many other items of State and national news are given; a liberal patronage of advertising appears, and, all in all, the paper evidently was issued after a careful canvass was made.
Some one gives a history of the inception of the Mattoon Business College and Female Seminary, and, through successive numbers, concludes arguments in favor of their firm establishment in the city.
The Journal starts out evidently well prepared for work, and shows a disposition to maintain and elevate its standard. Mr. Ellis continued as editor and proprietor until June 23, 1866, when he sold an interest in the paper to Capt. Thomas E. Woods. Two weeks before, the Journal was considerably enlarged and improved, showing the year’s adventure had been successful.Capt. Woods, in his “salutatory” to the readers of the Journal, says he is here again among the people he had formerly known when he conducted the Gazette, and later, when he had wielded the pen in the sanctum of the Charleston Courier, before that journal, as he thinks, apostatized. He alludes to the fact of his late connection with the war, fairly closed, and avers that, having tried both the pen and the sword, though the former may be “mightier, it is less swift.”
The current news of the day are given; a good local column is maintained, while general news appears. Mr. Ellis remains with the paper, Capt. Woods acting as editor.
The Journal was run under this arrangement until the fall of 1869, when Capt. Woods purchased the entire interest, and assumed exclusive control. He conducted the Journal alone until March 1, 1876, when he associated with himself his brother, Winfield Woods, and the paper was conducted by Woods Brothers until January 1, 1879, when Capt. Woods received an appointment in the Treasury Department, at Washington, and went there. He is still connected with the paper, however, and furnishes much of its editorial matter.
On January 1, 1879, William F. Purtill, who has been connected with the papers of Mattoon as a general printer and foreman for several years, and has been for a long time with the Journal, obtained an interest, and now the paper is conducted by Woods & Purtill. It began in 1874 to issue a daily, which it maintains with commendable enterprise, and which is an important factor in the life of Mattoon. It had been run as a tri-weekly two or three years prior to the daily; this was, however, abolished when the daily was founded, and the weekly issue resumed.
The third paper in Mattoon, the Commercial, is the outgrowth of the Radical Republican, a paper started early in December, 1867, by Mr. Ebenezer Noyes. When the Gazette was sold by Mr. Bostwick to the committee of Democrats, Mr. Noyes determined to establish a strong Republican paper in its stead, purchased materials and opened an office on the north side of Broadway, west of the railroad, in the room now occupied by ’Squire Robb. He employed Charles Robb as printer, and assumed the editorial charge himself. He made the paper what its name implied, and was not at all afraid to freely express his views. He was assisted by Mr. Chittenden in his editorial work, who had the main control in the business office and as a gatherer of news. James Williams was soon after also engaged in the printing department. Mr. Chittenden did not remain long in the office, and the entire editorial and reportorial duties devolved upon Mr. Noyes, who took in his sons to aid him. They continued the Radical Republican until sometime in 1871, when they sold the paper to Mr. A. Bookwalter, who changed the name to Commercial. He continued it until the fall of 1872, when he suspended. He soon after sold the office to Mr. R. Sumerlin & Sons, who moved it to its present location. Their first paper appeared on October 8, 1872. Under their management, the paper was made the organ of the Democratic party, and was continued by them until August, 1876. Mr. Sumerlin sold the paper at this time to a stock company, and went to Florida. The company appointed Mr. A. Sumerlin, who had been in the office with his father, editor and manager, and, under this management, it is still continued. The Commercial is a four-page paper, issued weekly, and has a good circulation among its constituents.
The office is very well supplied with material, and a general printing and job office maintained in connection with the paper.
LODGES, ASSOCIATIONS, SOCIETIES, ETC.
Masonic—Godfrey de Bouillon Commandery K. T., No. 44.Instituted October 28, 1874. First officers: E. A. Thielens, E. C.; F. K. La Fever, Gen.; J. B. Ayer, Capt. Gen. Present officers: Michael Meller, E. C.; G. W. Shaw, Gen.; G. W. Clark, Capt. Gen.; C. G. Weymouth, Recorder. Regular conclave the second and fourth Fridays of each month.
Mattoon Royal Arch Chapter, No. 85. Instituted October 26, 1865. First officers: James M. True, H. P.; S. J. Fisher, K.; W. H. House, S. Present officers: Thomas Davis, H. P.; James Darnell, K.; J. H. Clark, S.; J. J. Ayer, Sec. Meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month, at their hall.
Mattoon Lodge, No. 260, F. & A. M. Instituted in 1858 (oldest Masonic Lodge in town). First officers: N. W. Chapman, W. M.; J. W. Dora, S. W.; J. B. Tayler, J. W.; E. W. True, Treas.; H. C. Rogers, Sec. Present officers: James L. Scott, W. M.; James H. Clark, S. W.; John F. Scott, J. W.; I. Jennings, Treas.; W. A. Bell, Sec. Meets first and third Mondays of each month, at their hall.
Circle Lodge, No. 707. Instituted January 10, 1873. First officers: George Wenlock, W. M.; F. K. La Fever, S. W.; Benjamin S. Capen, J. W.; William H. Lewis, Sec. Present officers: J. B. Durnell, W. M.; Thomas Davis, S. W.; J. A. Mulford, J. W.; George W. Clark, Sec. Meets first and third Wednesdays of each month, at their hall.
Eureka Lodge, No. 13. (Colored Masons.) “First officers: Austin Perry, W. M.; Milford Norton, S. W.; James Hunt, J. W.; David Smith, Treas.; Henry Sweet, Sec. Present officers: Austin Perry, W. M.; T. W. Barnes, S. W.; C. Beacham, J. W.; Patrick Williams, Treas.; D. L, May, Sec. Meets first Monday of each month, at Kilners Block.
Masonic Benevolent Association. (Insurance.) Chartered August 23, 1876. Officers: Joseph H. Clark, Pres.; J. Richmond, Vice Pres.; J. S. Anderson, Sec.; J. R. Tobey, Treas.; J. W. Dora, M. D., Med. Ex. Has at present a membership of , and is steadily increasing.
Odd Fellows—Mattoon Encampment, No. 97. Instituted in 1868. First officers: John Owens, C. P.; J. D. Kilner, S. W.; A. P. Frick, H. P.; Elza McKnight, J. W. Present officers: J. D. Hawes, C. P.; Frank Garthwait, S. W.; J. D. Kilner, H. P.; D. S. Coom, J. W. Membership over seventy. Meets first and third Fridays of each month, in Kellerman’s Building.
Harmony Lodge, No. 551. First officers: F. M. Phipps, N. G.; W. E. Murry, V. G.; W. C. Drish, R. S.; George Goldgart, Treas.; S. A. Campbell, P. Sec. Present officers: John M. Kelley, N. G.; Henry Gochonour, V. G.; Frank K. La Fever, R. S.; A. Spitler, Treas.
Coles County Lodge, No. 260, I. 0. 0. F. Instituted in 1856 or 1857. Present officers: John Snyder, N. G.; John Soules, V. G.; Oliver Goggin, R. S.; John Birch, Sec.; J. T. Kilner, Treas. Meets every Tuesday evening.
Mattoon German Lodge, No. 414, I. O. 0. F. Instituted in 1864. Present officers: John Kelley, N. G.; Henry Gochonour, V. G.; Frank La Fever, Sec.; Abram Spitler, Treas. Meets every Wednesday evening.
Knights of Pythias.—Palestine Lodge, No. 46. Instituted April 7, 1874. First officers: S. A. Campbell, P. C; R. B. Moore, C. C; M. E. Boyd, V. C; R. B. Woolsey, P.; George W. Clark, M. of E.; Frank P. Clark, M. of F.; Ira B. Jackson, K. of R. S.; W. H. Augur, M. of A.; George E. Cartmell, I. G.; John A. M. Scott, 0. G. Present officers: S. G. Tiley, P. C; C. B. Fry, C. C; J. B. Benefiel, V. C; Henry Wright, P.; Thomas W. Gaw, M. of E.; William M. Chettle, M. of F.; D. McCaull, K. of R. S.; Thomas McClurry, M. of A.; Anthony Stewart, I. G.; Robert Owenby, 0. G. Number of members, fifty. Meets first and third Thursday evenings of each month, at their Castle Hall, West Broadway.
K. of P. Endowment.—Section, No. 148. Instituted in April, 187?. First officers: Charles B. Fry, President; Robert N. Gray, Vice President John W. Hanna, Secretary and Treasurer; Henry Wright, Chaplain; W. Patrick, Guide; Henry Gullion, Guard; A. Stewart, Sentinel. Present officers: Charles B. Fry, President; John W. Hanna, Vice President; W. M. Chettle, Secretary and Treasurer; Henry Wright, Chaplain; U. Culson, Guide; Henry Gullion, Guard; Anthony Stewart, Sentinel. Membership, over twenty-five. Meets first and third Thursday evenings of each month, at K. of P. Hall. Knights of Honor.—Eureka Lodge, No. 598, instituted April 20, 1877, by William Obermeyer, with twenty-nine members. First officers: J. F. Drish, Past Dictator; L. G. Roberts, Dictator; Frank Noyes, Assistant Dictator; J. G. Wright, Y. D.; P. B. Lynn, Reporter; R. S. Holding, F. Reporter; R. B. Roberts, Sentinel; A. Danheiser, Guide; George Beacham, Guardian. Present officers: J. G. Wright. Past Dictator; H. M. Coulter, Dictator S. R.; Coddington, V. D.; Lee Schneller, Assistant Dictator: J. L. Matthews, Reporter; A. Danheiser, Fin. Reporter; George Bugh, Treasurer; J. M. Mitchell, Chaplain; B. F. Hays, Guardian; J. B. Ward, Sentinel. Membership, over one hundred. Meet every Monday evening at their hall. East Broadway.
Knights and Ladies of Honor.—Alpha Lodge No. 28, instituted in April, 1878. First officers: J. F. Drish, Pro.; Mrs. J. W. Hanna, Y. Pro.; L. V. Woods, Sec; Mrs. W. W. Smith, Fin. Sec; Mrs. Ira James, Treas. Present officers: L.G.Roberts, Pro.; Mrs.Norvell, Y. Pro.; Harry Coulter, Sec; John Parmalee, Fin. Sec; Mrs. Yining, Treas. Meets second and fourth Thursdays each month in K. of H. hall.
Excelsior Council R. T. of T.—Instituted January 10, 1879. First and present officers: 0. W. Gogin, S. C; B. W. Hunt, B. C; W. S. Hinkle, P. C.; T. A. Allison, Sec; Calvin Moore, Treas.; U. T. S. Rice, Herald; W. J. Stotts, Sentinel. Meets every Friday evening.
W. C. T. U.—Organized June 5, 1878. First officers: Mrs. M. J. Hinkle, Pres.; Mrs. Thomas Clegg, Sec: Mrs. Lillie Mulford, Cor. Sec: Mrs. Maggie Duncan. Treas. Meets every Thursday afternoon in their hall. Further particulars of this society, its objects, etc., are given in the history of the city.