HISTORY
OF
MENARD & MASON COUNTIES, ILLINOIS
1879

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

Village of Oakford

Page 381

Transcribed by: Jeanie Lowe

This is a small village on the S. & N. - W. R.R., and was surveyed and platted by A.J. Kelly, County Surveyor, for the proprietors, William Oakford and William Colson, in March 1872. The town plat contains sixty acres and is in the midst of a fine agricultural district. The land on which the town is situated belonged to Colson, and Oakford acquired a half-interest for his influence in securing a station. A public sale of lots was made April 11, 1872, at which time some $2,000 worth were disposed of, and soon after improvement began to be made. The first building or shanty on the town site was what was known as the railroad store, a kind of portable affair carrying chiefly in stock a supply for the railroad hands. Soon after the village was laid out, William Oakford built a storeroom and opened out a stock of groceries. In the summer of 1872, a general store was opened by Calvin Atterberry, who had been in business at "Bobtown." This was purchased in 1873, by Isaac Ogden and A.G. Colson. In January 1874, L.W. Roberts bought out Colson, and the firm became that of Ogden & Roberts. In October 1875, they sold out to Sutton Bros., who operated the store three years and then sold to S.L. Watkins & Bro., who have since conducted the business. In June, 1873, H.A. Bennett, from Petersburg, opened out a stock of drugs and shelf goods in the old railroad storeroom. This he soon after sold to William Colson, and he in turn to A.G. Colson and J. H. Green. In January, 1876, S. L. Watkins, the present proprietor, bought the establishment. In the spring of 1875, Dr. J.D. Whitney and W.C. Roberts erected a building and opened a drug store. T.P. Renshaw & Co. began the operation of a branch store with a general stock in August 1878. They occupy the room erected by Watkins & Colson, and formerly occupied by Moon & Gault, of Petersburg. Their main store is located at Chandlerville, Cass County. Oliver J. Moltby and J.W. Walker started a harness-shop in 1876. This branch of business is at present operated by Berget Guist, from Virginia, Cass County. A confectionery and restaurant is operated semi-occasionally by C.P. Stith. James S. Carter, from Petersburg, opened a furniture store here in 1877, but did not continue the business long. Dr. J.D. Whitney and Charles Meyers built the first dwellings in the village in the summer of 1872. Meyers had formerly kept a doggery at Robinson's Mills and supplied the villagers and surrounding inhabitants of the infant Oakford with firewater for the space for two years. James P. Thomas, familiarly known as "Porky Thomas," now issues out rations to the "boys" in the way of "Smiles." James S. Carter, after closing out his furniture store, opened a saloon and still operates it. Gilbert Skaggs, now editor of the Chandlerville Independent, built the first blacksmith-shop in the village. This was purchased by James McElhern, who came from Canada and was the first blacksmith in the place. L.W. Roberts, Isaac Ogden, William Jackson, A.G. Colson, Henry Garter, James McElhern, and perhaps others, built dwellings in the summer of 1874, and for a time the village seemed to be well out on the highway to prosperity. But as the storm is ever succeeded by the calm, so the spirit of improvement gradually subsided and the village has pretty much since remained in statu quo. The first practitioner to locate in the village was Dr. J.D. Whitney, who has recently taken up his residence in Petersburg. Jacob A. Bolinger, M.D., is the present resident physician. He has built recently located here and is a young man of much promise in his profession. He is an alumnus of Missouri Medical College. Rev John Kennedy, a minister of the Baptist persuasion, preached here in quite an early period of the village history. No schoolhouse or church building has ever been erected in the village limits. Services are held occasionally by the different denominations of the vicinity, in the hall over the storeroom of Renshaw & Co. The mortality among the children of the village and neighborhood in the summer of 1873, was very great. Five interments sometimes occurred in a single day at the Oakford Cemetery. The first death among the adult population, was that of Horace Purdy, who decease occurred in the winter of 1872. His wife also died a few weeks later. The first birth was that of a son of John Whitley, born in September 1872. The marriage of A.G. Colson and Rachel Skaggs, in November 1872, and that of L.W. Roberts and Carrie C. Ogden, in March 1873, were the first weddings that occurred in the village. The post office was established soon after the village was started. It is at present presided over by S. L. Watkins. Low & Foster built a small elevator in 1877, and handle the grain shipped form this point. A case of justifiable homicide occurred in the village during the summer of 1876. James McElhern, who has already been mentioned as the first blacksmith, lost his wife at the hands of one A.J. McDonald. McElhern was a man of great physical strength and of rather a quarrelsome disposition, especially when under the influence of intoxicants. It was clearly proven at the preliminary examination that McDonald was making every effort possible to avoid an encounter, but finding every avenue of escape cut off, suddenly turned upon him and delivered a pistol shot which proved fatal. The grand jury failed to find a bill of indictment and so the matter ended. The business interests of the village to-day are represented as follows: Two general stores, one drug store, one harness-shop, one boot and shoe shop, one barber-shop, one flour and feed store, one butcher-shop, two saloons and one grain elevator. The population of the village does not exceed two hundred.

Atterberry, a station on the S. & N.-W. Railroad, midway between Petersburg and Oakford, was laid out by Daniel Atterberry, in March 1872. By birth, it is one day younger than Oakford. An acre of ground was donated to the road for depot purposes. The town site is in the midst of a rich farming community, but from some cause the growth of the village has failed thus far to meet the expectations of its founder. Not to exceed half a dozen dwellings mark the spot to day. A post office, which is a mere neighborhood convenience, is presided over by Mr. Colburn, the gentlemanly agent of the S. & N. W. R.R. at this pint. As a point from which to ship grain and live stock, it pays the railroad to keep a station here. Few points on the road show a larger shipment of livestock, and grain trade is rapidly increasing. There is some talk of erecting a steam elevator and mill combined at the town, and should this be made an accomplished fact, no doubt a spirit of enterprise and improvement would spring up in the village.


1879 Index

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