Bald hill Township is situated in the extreme southeast part of jefferson
county. It is bounded on the south of Franklin County, on the west
by Perry County, on the north by Blissville Township and on the east by
Elk Prarie Township. Its official government designation is Township
4 South Range 1 East.
It took its name from a large hill just west of the town Scheller.
The township was formed out of Elk Prarie Precinct during township organization.
It is a good farming region given the generally flat lay of land.
Horse Prairie lies mostly in the southeast corner and Knob Prairie lies
in the southwest section.
Settlement was slow in developing compared with the rest of Jefferson
County. Wall's History of Jefferson County lists the following
names: McGinnis, Turman, Bellows, Hardwick, Smith, Scroggins, Irvin, Morgan
Early schools were organized in Sections 2, 8, 23, 29 and 36. The first
church was called the Bald Hill Methodist Episcopal Church, a1so called
Immanuel Chapel and was located near the north line of the township.
In 1896 St. Barbara's Catholic Church was built was built on land
donated by Gertrude Scheller and family. A school was also organized at
the time. In 1958 a new church was dedicated. It is of contemporary Gothic
design with a beautiful rose window located over the double entrance doors.
Early roads included the Tamaroa-Winfield road whch ran through the
south part of Bald Hill Township. It was a winding road many travelers
used for migration to Missouri and Arkansas. Dust was terrible, often being
five inches deep in dry weather. Gypsies often travelled the Tamaroa-Winfield
road and camped on the banks of the Little Muddy River.
Tiimber was plentiful and sawmills cut up many logs for fencing, mine
props and railroad ties.
The first railroad, the Wabash, Chester and Western Railroad (later
Union Pacific, then Missouri Pacific), aided in the establishment of township:
Waltonville and Scheller. The railroad entered the township at Section
1 at Waltonville and angled southwest through Scheller, exiting fron Section
19 into Perry County. Later, another rai1road, the C. B &Q., crossed
the southeast corner of the township.
In the late 1940s the Chicago, Wilmington and Frankiin Coal Companyed
the Orient #3 mine south of Waltonville in Bald Hill Township. The
mine operated for nearly 40 years, providing jobs for hundreds of people
of area. It closed in the early 1980s and the reclamation project has been
It was the largest slope mine of its kind, hauling coal out of the mine
on an endless belt stretching up a 16 degree slope 3,169 feet long. Instesd
of men undercutting, drilling, blasting and shoveling each ton of coal
by hand, 40-ton continuous-mining machines combined all four operations.
These machines mined under 14,000 acres in Jefferson County.
Three other towns once existed in Bald Hill Township. Meso was established
with a post office in 1900 and discontinued in 1904. It was na med
for Cornellius Meso, a Civil War soldier. The spelling changed, depending
on what you read: it is "Mezzo" in land records, "Mezo" on the school named
for Cornellius, "Meso" on the post office and maps. The viliage was located
in the northwest quarter of Section 13.
Dryden was located in the southeast quarter of Section 14 near Dryden
Cemetery also known as Black Jack Cemetery. The post office existed 1886-1910.
Emmerson/Emmersonville/Emmerson City was located on the C.B. & Q
Section 25. It was named for one of the surveyors, Louis L. Emmerson, who
later served as governor of Illinois from 1927-1933. The post office
excisted from 1907 to 1910.