Jefferson County
Illinois



Marlow - Town History
Submitted By: Sandy (Whalen) Bauer
Source: Newspaper clipping undated
but probably from Mt. Vernon Register-News around 1968-1969
based upon Alva's age.
 
*Note*
Abram "Squire" Marlow mentioned below is my 3rd grandfather and 
his parents James and Mary (May) Marlow, my 4th great grandparents.  
Note the spelling of "Rolla" who is actually Raleigh, brother of 
my great grandmother Anna Belle (Marlow) Williams. They were the 
only two children of Millard Filmore Marlow and Frances Catherine Staley.  
Raleigh was known as "Uncle Buck" to the family and lived next to the 
Black Oak Ridge Cemetery and mowed it by push mower up into his 90's  
He died at age 102.

Sandy


Made By Railroad, Ruined by "Hard Road"

MARLOW - ONCE A BUSY LITTLE TOWN
by Lloyd B. DeWitt

Marlow still exists as a little hamlet on the Southern Railroad between 
Mt. Vernon and Bluford. It still has a Methodist and a Baptist church, 
a townhouse where people still vote, and a dilapidated store building, 
but no stores or business places. Like many other small towns, it was 
made by the railroad and ruined by the "hard road.".

Prominent in its history are the Marlows from whom it got its name.  
James and Mary (May) Marlow, natives of Virginia, moved to Wilson county, 
Tennessee, and from there to Bullock Prairie near Mt. Vernon in 1828.  
Their twin sons, James and Abram, and another son Henry settled in Webber 
township and raised their families there.

Abram, called Squire Marlow, was a veteran of the Mexican and Civil Wars, 
and his brother, James was in the Civil War. Brother Henry might have gone 
too except that when he was a small boy his sister was playing with a hatchet.  
He put his trigger finger on the chopping block and dared her to cut it off.  
She did.

The old Black Oak Ridge Methodist church about a mile and a half east of 
Marlow was built on Squire Marlow's land about 1850, and he and his wife 
were charter members. School was also conducted in the old log church.  
Ed Staley of Bluford recalls that his father went to school there. There 
was no bell to call the pupils in from play, and the teacher summed them 
by banging on the building with a picket.

Black Oak Ridge School Started

The old church has long been gone, but there is still a well-kept cemetery 
there where many of the Marlows and other pioneer settlers are buried.  
Later a Black Oak Ridge school house was built in the edge of the woods 
about a quarter of a mile from the church site.  It had no bell, but the 
teacher usually had a hand bell to call the pupils.  There was no well 
either, but the teacher would send one of the older boys to a neighboring 
farm house for a bucket of water. Since the school was in the woods, 
toilets were not considered necessary, but girls were instructed to take 
cover in one direction and the boys in the opposite one.

Marlow got its start when the Old Air Line Railroad (now Southern) came 
through in 1881. Mr. Staley recalls being told that there was a great drouth 
(sic drought) that year and that employment on the road was most welcome to 
the farmers. The road bed was of dirt and construction rather poor. There 
was a steep grade between Marlow and Bluford, and east bound trains with more 
than twenty-five cars often had trouble.  Sometimes they had to uncouple some 
of the car and leave them behind. Then the train would go onto the Bluford 
siding and the engine would go back to bring up the stranded cars.

Give Land for Town

The land for the town of Marlow was given by Abram Marlow, John Scott, and 
Dr. J.H. Newton.  According to Kate Newton Morris, daughter of Dr. Newton, 
Abram Marlow built a store building, two residences, and a grain house.  He 
was the first merchant in Marlow, the first postmaster and a justice of the 
peace.

Alva Marlow, 85, of 1728 Main street, Mt. Vernon, remembers the blacksmith 
shop which his father, James T. Marlow operated in Marlow and the car loads 
of apples which he bough and packed in barrels for shopping, and the Morris 
brothers operated a sawmill. Farmers made some money by hewing railroad 
ties which sold for a dollar or more apiece. Alva Marlow remembers well 
Bransford Scott, the railway agent who had only one leg.

Dr. Newton Prominent

Besides the Marlow, Dr. Newton was one of the prominent men in Marlow's 
history.  In addition to practicing medicine he had a big general store and 
also served as postmaster.  He bought the store from Harlan Estes and moved 
his office alongside of it and built a porch across the two buildings.  Dr. 
Newton was a resourceful man. Before moving his office he had to cross the 
street to get to it. When he got a bad knee injury and was confined to a 
wheel chair, he had a plank walk built across the road so that he could go 
back and forth to his office in his weheel chair.

His son Walter and his daughter Anne did most of the work in connection with 
the management and operation of the store. The daughter, Mrs. Anne Newton 
Graves, is the only one of her family still living. She resides at Hickory 
Grove Manor, and though now 95 she remembers a great deal about the early days.  
Of the store, she says, "It was a big, big, store, and we sold just about 
everything. It was a lot of work though. I would et to the store right after 
breakfast and work there all day". Born in 1874, seven years before the railroad 
was built, she has some recollections of the events which she says was "the 
biggest thing that ever happened at Marlow, and all the men in the community 
could get jobs helping to build the railroad."

Business Fades from Marlow
Although Marlow was a very busy place in the old days, it probably never had 
a population of more than 40 in the village proper. When the highway between 
Mt. Vernon and Bluford was paved, business at Marlow dropped off and train 
service there was discontinued; with that gone and also the postoffice, 
Marlow became only a little agricultural hamlet.

Among the older survivors of the Marlow family are Alva of Mt. Vernon and 
his brother Lloyd of Bluford, grandson of James A. Marlow, and Rolla (sic Raleigh) 
Marlow, grandson of Abram Marlow, and W.E. Marlow, grandson of Henry Marlow, 
who still lives in the Marlow community.

Alva is well known to many Mt. Vernon residents. After teaching in the rural 
schools for 10 years, he became a freight clerk at the L.& N. depot here and 
was employed there for 37 years, retiring in 1956.




 
 
 
 
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