HISTORY
OF
MENARD & MASON COUNTIES, ILLINOIS
1879

Chicago: O.L. Baskin & Co., Historical Publishers
186 Dearborn Street
Chicago

THE VILLAGE OF NEW MARKET

Transcribed by: Ellen Booth.

Page 374

Doubtless many of our readers are ignorant of the fact that a village bearing the above name once existed in their midst. It not only did exist, but even aspired, we are told, to the dignity of becoming the seat of government for the State of Illinois, as well as the capital of Menard County. It was laid out by Dr. Ballard and a man named Speer. Ballard put up a large two-story building, intended for a tavern; but the glory of the new town waned so soon that it was never needed or used for the purpose. A store was opened by one Clarke, who afterward sold out to Ballard & Speer. A blacksmith-shop was opened, as before noted, by George Saunders and William F. Rogers, and the place presented quite as much the appearance of a town as did Petersburg at the time the county seat was located there. In establishing the county seat, it was "entered for the race" against the latter place for that dignified position, and it is even stated that it was a competitor with Springfield for the State capital. This may be a joke, but we give it as we heard it. If true, it played for a high stake, and ----lost. With the location of the seat of Justice at Petersburg, it faded away into nothingness. It became a village of the dead rather than of the living; "a grave for ambition---an antidote for pride." The ruins of Baalbee are in many respects a mystery; Palmyra, at least in vastness, surpasses even Baalbee; Athens, Rome, Jerusalem, and other scenes of decay, appeal to our pity and touch our hearts; but for New Market, the "mighty city of lofty aspirations," we can only, like the Hebrew captives of old, "hang our harps upon the willows" and weep. It owed its origin to a rather wild ambition, and waned to its extinction when fate decided adversely to its hopes and wishes.

"Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the law,
Thy sports are fled, and all they charms withdrawn;
Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green;
One only master grasps the whole domain,
And half a tillage stints they smiling plain;
No more they glassy brook reflects the day,
But, choked with sedges, works its weedy way;
Along thy glades, a solitary guest -
The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest;
Amidst thy descrt-walks the lapwing flies,
And tires their echoes with unvaried cries.
Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all,
And the long grass o'ertops the moldering wall,
And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand,
Far, far away thy children leave the land."

Finally, when the fact was ascertained beyond any shadow of doubt that it was "born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness upon the desert air," it was vacated, by legislative enactment, and nothing now remains to point out the spot where once it stood. Its original site is a productive farm.


1879 Index

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