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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