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A History Of Fredericktown Missouri

 Taken from the Democrat News Volume 59

Number 26  Issue  September 20, 1928

Submitted by Michael Miller


 History Of Fredericktown Missouri

The town of Fredericktown, as a reference to the county map will show, is

Located in the three of the old Spanish Land Grants,  numbers; 3323, 2075, and 2073.  The oldest of these grants is 2232, the grant being bordered by Castor and Village Creek on the north, St. Francois River on  the west, Saline Creek on the south and extends out about four miles east of town near the point where Highway No. 61 crosses the Old Jackson Road.  This grant was the location of early Fredericktown called at that time, St. Michael.   Despite its antiquity, the town of Fredericktown has only a population of a little more than 3000 inhabitants, varying as the different industries of the town are brought about.  Happy and content are the inhabitant, busying themselves with their daily tasks.  Many small industries flourish in the town and a wonderful school system has been established.  In this day of automobiles the people have many advantages and are not one minute behind in industrial and intellectual progress of the rest of the world.  Her beautiful location, her numerous other advantages make her an ideal city of the smaller type.

The F oundation Of The Town

Early in the seventeenth century the Osage & the Kickapoo Indians had formed trade routes through the district of Mine La Motte and Fredericktown.  These routes extended from the southwest of Missouri, passing through the named places, through Ste. Genevieve, and on to the

Mississippi.  It was over this route that Phillip Francis Renault and his companions, prospecting for lead made their way to Mine La Motte in the year of  1723 or 1724.  The mining party consisted of about 200 French miners and 500 negro slaves from Santa Domingo.  Numerous settlements were formed viz. at Mine La Motte.  Here the mines were put in operation and a flourishing industry was started.  “It is worth remembering,” says Louis Houck , in his History Of Southeast Missouri, “that in 1774 seven persons while mining were killed by the Osage Indians.  The killed were; son of Don Francisco Valle named Joseph, Jacques Parent, August Chatal, and Menard from Canada.  Also Phillips; an Englishman, DuPont; a Frenchman, and Caliste a Negro.   For sometime afterwards the mining was not carried on as extensively.  Record of the following letter, written by Don Francisco Valle, and dated 1775, shows that this is true;  “Since the Cheraquis Indians compelled the miners at Mine La Motte located fifteen leagues from Ste. Genevieve, to abandon it, only a small amount of lead has been taken from other small mines.”  Therefore not only were these mines closed, but the closing of other mines had resulted from this bloody massacre. 

It is not certain that these people had any religious services, but it is altogether probable.  In fact all the people were Catholics and the Jesuit Missionaries from missions of which some were only thirty miles distant would surely have visited these pioneer people.  Father Sebastian Louis Maurin and Francis Xavier Charelvoix were two of the very earliest  priests of which we have record.

In 1779 Don Zenon Trudeau was Lieutenant Governor and Captain General of Illinois, which belonged to Spain at that time.  It was the Custom of Spain to settle her land quickly to guard it from the English.

Consequently the land was free for the asking.  To get the land one applied to Trudeau and usually stated some special reason for asking for the land.   It wasduring this year that the first settlers in the actual vicinity of Fredericktown applied to Zenon Trudeah for a stated number of arpents of land.  The following is the exact words from the petition:  “ To Monsieur Zenon Trudeau, Lieutenant Governon and Commander in Chief of the Western Part Of Illinois:

The  undersigned inhabitants, thirteen in number, mostly native Creoles of the land, and the others French have the honor to submit to the fact that for a long time past, their lands have no longer provided food for their cattle nor even grani enough for the sustinence of their families, they would like to plan and form a settlement therefore in the neighborhood of
Mine La Motte, they have already selected a certain amount of land suitable for their purpose, which they found lying between the Saline and Castor Rivers, pertains to Village Creek, which are branches of the St. Francois River, situatued about one mile from Mine La Motte.  It is for this reason they have come to you.    Sir, May it please you to grant each of them 400 arpents ( an arpent of land equals about four fifths of an acre), in an area of land, making a total of 5200 arpents of land for them, their heirs and with this motive in view order the King’s Surveyor to make the survey and to put them into possession of the aforesaid quantity of 5200 arpents of land and in case this amount of 5200 arpents of land fit for cultivation is not to be found between the said rivers, Castor and Saline, to authorize them to make what is lacking from any location of the public domain which remains unoccupied and which answers the same requirements as that described in the aforesaid locality.


Marque   Paul DeGuire, Marque X, Andre DeGuire,  MarqueX de Gabriell Nicoll, Marque X de Jerome Matis, Marque X de Michael LaChance,  Antoine LaChance, Gabriel LaChance, Joseph LaChance, Nicholas LaChance, Francois LaChance, Peter Chevalier, Pierre Viriat. “St. Louis de Illinieses, the twelveth of May 1799.

Whereas it is known that petitioners are faithful subject of the King and have a claim upon the government for a certain quantity of land as asked for, the surveyor of this jurisdiction, the surveyor of this jurisdiction, Don Antoine Soulard, shall place them in possession of the land for which they asked in the locality indicated, provided it be unoccupied and no injury arise to anyone, and he shall issue the patent of survey, and request the Definite concession of the Governor General, who shall be informed that the subjects deserve the favor for which they have asked. Zenon Trudeau.”

  Of all the petitioners only seven could sign their name, the others merely making their mark.  Peter Chevalier came from Aux Vasse, the DeGuires from Ste. Genevieve, LaChances from New Bourbon, Matis from New Bourbon also, and Gabriell Nicoll and Pierre Viriat from Grand River.

  Chevalier, Pierre, DeHaut, DeLassus de Luziere, “Knight of the Grand  Cross Of The Order Of St. Michael”, was it’s first civil and military commandant, who also exercised jurisdiction as far west as Mine La Motte.  As these people were mostly from New Bourbon, and therefore still under his jurisdiction the town was called St. Michael.  James Maxwell, one of the parish priests of Ste. Genevieve and pastor of Fredericktown from 1797 to 1814, was owner of immense tracts and several slaves.  In 1813 he was appointed to the Territorial Council by Jefferson and was elected President of its members.

  A portion of land in the Northeaster part of the present town was called the Common Grounds and served as the common grounds for these thirteen families.  It is suppoed that here they planted their crops, clearing this plot first, and made their homes while each was clearing off  his special portion of the land grand.  It is interesting to note that the drinking water was procured from two old springs still in existence, one located on the Fredericktown Milling Co., elevator lot, the other on the north part of the H B Holmes farm.  The old Spanish land grant was confirmed by the United States Government to the original owners after the Louisiana Purchase.  This took place March 8th, 1807, as shown on the old land records in Washington D.C.

  This first old village, we are told , contained about fifteen log houses, a Catholic Church, a small store owned and operated by a man named Charles F. Going, and the “Fredericktown Bee”, speaks of an old graveyard in the issue of May 20th, 1869, existing then near the present sight of the freight depot and then near this small church.  The little village existed with small growth until about the year 1814.  It was in June of this year that the great flood came, when the Saline and Castor Creeks both overflowed their banks and completely washed the village away.  Right here we might mention that this flood was repeated in the year 1910, which flood most inhabitants remember fully.  During the flood the people  took refuge in a place just east of the Budenholzer homestead.  After the flood they refused to return to their old homes and accordingly what was called the New Village,  was established on the site of this refuge.  This village had only small growth and in the year 1816 had only twelve families.  During the year 1815, Henry Pratte built a small Catholic Church on the location of the old village, and gradually the people began to drift back toward their old home, this time, however, building their homes on higher ground just south of the creek.

  The town of Fredericktown was organized in 1819.  The usual opinion is that the town was named after Frederick Bollinger, but the most reasonable opinion is that it was named after Frederick Bates, who was a prominent member of the board, appointed by congress to settle the vexed question of the Spanish land grants.  He figured prominently in this section and it is altogether probable that the town was named after him.  The land was appointed originally to James Finley and bought by Nathaniel Cook and given to the inhabitants of St. Michael to form the town of Fredericktown.  The county was organized in 1818 and 1819 and Fredericktown was made the county seat.

This old town had a starting point on Saline Creek at or near the bridge on Mine La Motte Avenue, followed south on Mine La Motte Avenue to about where the Toler Spring Branch crosses and from the west to about the old well in the Cahoon property and from that point north to Saline Creek which was followed back up to the place of beginning.  The commissioners appointed receive this gift of land and form the seat of Justice were: Theodore F. Tong, Joseph Bennett, Henry Whitener, and John Burdett.

By the year 1822 the town had grown considerably, containing fifty dwellings and about 250 inhabitants.  There were four stores, the four merchants being  S.A. Guignon, S.B. Pratte, Moses and Caleb Cox.  At a little later date stores were opened by Zenas Smith, Henry Janis and Co. and John S. Bossier.  Schwaner’s  store today is located on the old dwelling lot of  S.A. Guignon, and the Hows Store was the widow Pratte’s Residence and built by Arnett and George (R.C. Arnett’s father) in 1845.   Janis and Co. had an old frame store on the lot where E.H. Bess’s house now stands with his dwelling, a large brick building where the Christian Church now stands.

One of the old land transfers was on May 10th, 1827, when Rev. Francis Cellini, the resident pastor of the town of St. Michael, bought from Nathaniel Cook several hundred acres extending west to the St. Francois River and completely enclosing the present site of Fredericktown, and then two years later he sold the entire tract for a consideration of $2000.00 , on April 1st , 1829.  Another interesting fact just here was the building of the brick church in 1846.  This building was  75 feet long, 35 feet high and 20 feet wide.  It was built at a cost of $1,722.40 and was part of the church just torn down last year.  Prices of living were in keeping with the wage scale, and some of the prices were as follows; bacon and ham 3 cents per lb., beans .75 cents per bushel, butter .10 to .12 cents per Pound, coal .10 to .12 cents per bushel, potatoes .25 cents per bushel, and the best quality whiskey could be had for .50 cents per gallon.

Probably the first school established was by the Sisters Of Loretto.  “The
Shepherd Of The Valley”, a Catholic paper, gave the following account of the school; “ The Sisters of  Loretto have established a house of education at Fredericktown, Madison Co., Mo., under the direction of Father Francis Cellini.  They will teach, Reading, Writing, Grammar, Arthimatic, Geography, History, Painting, French, Needlework, Embroidery, Music, etc.  Young ladies of any religious profession will be received without the least prejiduce.  Though the teachers profess the Roman Catholic religion, yet no child shall be in the least troubled with regard to their particular religious opinions, nor will any undue influence be made over their belief.

The rates of tuituion are:  For the common school branches $10.00 per annum; Painting and Embriodery $5.00 extra; Music, $10.00 extra; French $5.00 extra; Board at the home $1.00 per week.  Parents must furnish bed and bedding.  Each day scholar mush furnish two loads of wood for winter.” 

  Little is recorded of the town up to the time of the civil war, one battle which was fought just south of the town.  The following is an account of the battle written by R. C Arnett.  It is dated Sunday, Oct. 21, 1827.

  “It is just 56 uears ago today, that the peaceful little inland town of Fredericktown, MO., when we freighted goods from Pilot Knob, the then terminus of the Iron Mountain Railroad, and hauled our lead from this county to old Ste. Genevieve on the Mississippi River by ox teams, few of our old citizens are living who will ever forget the awakenings and the horrors of the war.  Most especially, the Civil War; When the people and families were divided and arrayed against each other in a deadly conflict, each feeling himself in the right, according to the geographical locations, giving to each a divided loyalty.  There are those of the town and community who acknowledged allegiance to the Federal Government and the Stars and Stripes; and a number on the other hand (who were just as honest and sincere), who cast their lots and fortunes with the confederacy, to follow the Stars and Bars through the five years of a bloody conflict.  But thank God, that roday there is neither the Blue nor the Gray, but all Americans whose blood runs red through their veins, will don the kahki and fight as one man to protect American democracy and freedom.  It was in the latter part of October 1861, that General Jeff Thompson, Commanding the Confederate soldiers, made his raid on this town; and while here he captured a courier with a message from Col. Garland at Pilot Knob to Col. Ross at Cape Girardeau; each with 5000 Federal Soldiers here to meet at Fredericktown at once, and capture General Thompson and his 3000 Confederates.  So Thompson gave orders for a 10 day forced march, and left the town on Sunday evening, October 20, 1861.  When about 15 or 20 miles south of town, Col. Lowe who commanded about 1100 infantry, composed of men mostly from this vicinity who became very much disgruntled and demanded of Gen. Thompson that if they could not fight at their home, that they did not care to fight at all.  Gen. Thompson remarked that if it was fighting they wanted, under any condition, he would be damned if he would not go back, and they could have their fill.

When the Confederates left town on Sunday afternoon, my mother with my sister and myself started home after bidding good-bye to her son, brothers, nephews and relatives, and of course felt lonesome and despondent.  So when we got as far as South Main street at the Mrs. Duchoquette house where there were a number of  the town belles, Misses Emma Duchoquette, Kate Valle, Mary McFarland, Mary Fox, Guignon and several others, Mother asked them to come and go with us, as it was so lonesome; and they accepted.  So Monday morning, October 21st, was a nice, cool, frosty, crisp morning, and everybody was up listening at the Federal Troops crossing the bridge over the river west of town, and about that time, old Aunt Charlotte (the colored cook) came running in and said my mother;  “Miss Lina, Mr. Milton, Mr. Fayette and David (my brother and two uncles) was here las ‘ night!” “ Oh , no, Charlotte, they are nearly into Arkansas by this time.”  “ No mam, Miss Liza, ah knows how dey eats de cream off’en de milk, cose dey ain’t no sperator can get any mo’ cream dan dem boys.  I jus know it was dem in de springhouse las’ night, and das no cream for de coffee dis mawnin.”

Just at that time we heard a bugle over the hill south of the house and in a very short time Gen. Thompson and his staff came up the lane.  Of course we all went out to meet them.   Gen. Thompson, after talking a while and trying to answer all of the girls question in relation to where this one and that one was, turned to my mother and asked her if she knew of any white man he could trust to go to into town and find out if Col. Ross had gotten in yet from the Cape, as he knew that Col. Garland arrived from Pilot Knob.

Mother told him no, there wasn’t a white man left in the neighborhood.  I spoke up and said “Why Ma, I can go.  I know Col. Ross.”  She gave me a jerk by the coat tail to hush,  But Gen. Thompson saw her and said, “Mrs. Arnett I believe that boy (I was twelve years old) can get me the information I so much desire.”  His intentions were to pounce in on Col. Garland before Col. Ross could get in.  So he asked me a few questions as to what I would to say to the pickets, etc.  Then he said, “That boy can get me the desired information I so much need, and if you will let him go it will be of much importance to me.”  My mother, being one of those red hot Confederate, gave her consent.

I hiked off in a run to do my part, and in a very short time I was facing the pickets at the Zeke Sample residence (then the John Valle barn) at the corner of  Railroad and College Avenue, and as I was going to school had heard nothing of any rebels in the country, I went my way in peace, and when I wended my way up East Main street to the court hous and looked down South Main Street and saw the soldiers lying on the sidewalks asleep with their guns stacked in bunches ass along and some ridng about through the town, I completely forgot my business, as I was so interested in the uniforms, guns, horses, drums, horns, etc.. I whiled away nearly all the forenoon, and was standing by the big old tree, just in front of the McKinney Restaurant, whem my Uncle, Wash Nifong came along and tapped me on the shoulder and said  “What in the world are you doing here?”   I said, “Why we are getting ready to have a battle out at our house, as Gen. Thompson, Brother Milt, Uncle Fayette, and David Carruthers, and Uncle Mark Anthony (Dr Anthony’s father) were all at our house, and Gen. Thompson sent me to see if Col. Ross has gotten in yet.” “Why”, he said, “You little fool you get home just as soon as you can and don’t tell that to anyone again, for if they find out they will hang you.  So to say I was scared don’t express it.  And I as I looked out the Jackson Road,

I could see the whole country glistening with bayonets.  It was then about noon, I did not need any extra urging to go home.  As I ran down the street I came upon the pickets who were sound asleep and I never stopped to tell them I was leaving them.  As I got nearly opposite the Cole Concrete Works, I saw two men coming meeting me and a whole company after them shooting and yelling halt.   One was killed just as he turned where Henry Hovis now lives and the other  fell within ten feet where I lay in the fence corner (for the bullets where whizzing around me so thick and one had taken effect in my hand that I thought I might take a little rest there in the edge of the branch.)   As they came up and dismounted they saw ame and one asked if I was the little boy who Gen. Thompson had sent to town this morning, and as I could not tell whether or not they were Southern soldiers, I was at a loss as to what to answer.  Uncle Wash had told me that if the Federals were to find out they would hand me,  I did not make any reply.  But as the question was asked again, I put on a bold front and Answered yes.  He turned and said to a man who had not dismounted “Lieut. Col. Clutier, take this boy to Gen. Thompson’s headquarters at once.”   So he reached down caught me by the arm & threw me up behind Him.  We were at our front door in a very short time.  My mother had become so uneasy the she had come back from behind the hills where Gen. Thompson  had ordered them, as the battle would probably be fought where they were, to see if she could hear from me.   The had taken refuge at old Uncle Billy Tripps (better known as the Calvin Revelle place), where there were about fifty people who stayed all night.  Mother wanted me to get down and come with her, but the Lieutenant said , “No, his orders were to take me to Gen. Thompson’s headquareters.”  So mother loaded us both down with baskets with boiled ham and corn dodgers, and we went on with orders for me to hurry back.   When we came to the spot where Ben McGraw’s house now stand, there was one of Gen. Thompson’s 6 pound cannons stationed with a company of soldiers.  We delivered our grub and were informed that Gen. Thompson was somewhere between there and town, it was very few minutes until we saw him coming down the hill on the Greenville road in full tilt, and in less time than it takes to tell it, Col. Ross had his men formed clear across my field east of the road and on down through Judge Spiva’s field to the Sloss land, west of the road.  There was a strip of woods between the Greenville and Bloomfield roads, where the Odd Fellows and Christian Cemeteries now are, and Col. Ross’s command had taken refuge along that woods, while Gen. Thompson;s were over on the other ridge in the timber, and Col. Lowe with 1100 infantry was placed in the valley between the two armies along the fence where my barn now stands.   After fighing from hill to hill for an hour or more, Col. Ross thought to better his position by getting his command down in the valleys, not knowing it was occupied by Lowe, marched his army down through the corn to within 30 steps of the fene, when Lowe gave the signal to fire.  You can imagine his surprise and loss, but he fell back and reinforced and ordered an east flank with Major ??, and a west flank by the brave, Major John Smith Cavitt, who came near capturing the whole of Col. Lowe’s regiment, killed him and about 20 condfederates as they retreated to the woods, and just over the hill at old Grandpa Johnson Casey’s place, the Marble City Guard stopped in a thicket of brush on either side of the road, and as Major Cavitt, at the head of his command, following up the  the retreat, came rushing in, the confederates cross fired and killed both Major Cavitt and Capt. Hineman, both falling against the same panel of fence, and whose blood marked the spot for many years after the battle.  After that the Federals fell back and Gen. Thompson made his get-away without any further casualties.  Besides the loss of several Confederate stragglers who were captured, my brother Milt, being one of them who had gotten separated from his command and came into the road about eight miles south of town at the big spring on Twelve Mile, where Ed Lanpher now lives.  When the battle Commences I was ordered to go home, and I did not wait for a second order, and when I got back to the house mother and I made tracks for Uncle Billy Tripps, returning the next morning to find the place ransacked and demolished, gathered wheat destroyed, stock of all description taken or killed and left on the ground, smokehouse gutted, and fences all burnt. I am the only one of the family, white or black, left living, and know very few who fought in the battle who are living today.  My old friend and neighbor, Geo. L. Bruce,  who was with Lowe, and Dr L E Jenkins, who was in the fight, are, I believe, all that I can call to mind who are living now.

Thirty-five years after the battle, Col. Ross, now deceased, who lived somewhere in Iowa, came back to Fredericktown to view the old battlefield, and finding that I still owned my part of the old farm, and on which the greatest part of the battle was fought, called me up to know if I would accompany him to visit the ground, which I , of course accepted with pleasure, and I must say this his memory in every detail, was the most complete, as he could tell within five feet of where his cannon was located, and as we walked on down through the field to the valled he suddenly stopped and remarked that, “Right about here stood a large apple tree to which I owe my life, for” said he, “Just as I cam down through the corn and got to that tree they fired on my brigade and the bark was literally tore off of the tree, but I did not get a scratch.”  I lost no time in getting back, as I thought sure I would not have a man left.”  He was within two steps of the old stump which was covered entirely over, as it was in golley which had been filled up.  He picked some of the pieces to take home to his family as souveniers.  Although he did not get a scratch, the tree soon went to it’s death.   I have never seen an account of this battle in history, but it was always claimed the Confederates lost 20 and the Federals 6, but there were eight dead officers in the courthouse that night that my brother was guarded there.  I asked Col. Ross to tell me just how many Federals were killed and he said the next morning at roll call he was short 375 men, killed, wounded, and missing.  I asked where they were buried and he said part were buried at Pilot Knob and the other s out northwest of town on the Big St. Francois River.  I asked him who was in command in the battle.  He said that Col. Garland outranked him, but when he got into town, he found that Col. Garland had been imbibing a little too much, so he just assumed command and fought the battle.

Following the war, came the railroad in 1868 or 1869.  This is one of the most outstanding points in the history of the town, for several reasons. First, it gave work to men and did away largely with hauling with ox teams.

A roundhouse was established immediately after the railroad was put into operation and the main business section of the town was near the present freight depot.  The old timers told with pleasure of the fine hotel which was housed in the frame building on the lot where Mills and Waterall now have a concrete building.  Of course Mine La Motte was in operation at this time with a goodly number of employess and a many a gay party was held in the old hotel, so we are told.   Fredericktown was incorporated a village in the year 1868, however, the exact birthday of the town as a city of the fourth class came many years later, or on Nov. 23, 1893, with, R. Albert as first mayor; Alderman 1st Ward; E.H. Day and J. P. Graham; Aldermen 2nd Ward, Frank Schulte and E.D. Anthony, and it’s interesting to note that E.D. Anthony was again one of the Alderman of the town in 1926, or 33 years after a city government was established.

  About the year 1870 a furniture factory was established on the east side of South Main Street, just north of Mrs. Holladay’s residence, known as the Fredericktown Co-Operative Manufacturing Company (Joe Shrum’s oil well now of national fame was dug for this furniture factory and furnished them with water, not oil during the time) operated for a number of years producing furniture, wagons, plows, and at the same time doing general building.  Richard Brooks was a member of this company.  Also B.F. Kemper was a prominent factor. Also in that  year John Dennings owned and operated a brewery on the lot now occupied by the Democrat News building and the buildings on either side of it.  About two years later another brewery was put into operation on the corner where the Bank Of Fredericktown now stands and traces of their old beer cellar may still be seen down near that corner.  This was also a very flourishing industry at the time and continuing for a number of years.

The present graded school system was established in 1881 with J.E. Scott at the principal teacher.  The earliest form of education in the town, outside of the Catholic school I have mentioned before, was carried on in a little Methodist Church building.  This building was located near the present location of the Lutheran Church, and was built in 1812 or 1813.  Among those who attended the school in its nearly seventy years ago is R.C. Arnett, the teacher at that time was a man by the name of Xaupi, a brother-in-law of Wm and Dr. Cox.

The oldest protestant church of record in the county was the old Christian Church, built near the Marshall Spring in 1843 and about three years later moved to the Floyd Nifong farm where the old building now stands in a good state of preservation.  The old seats for the church were cut from walnut in the wood around the church and some are still doing duty in the present Christian Church.  The Methodist Church was established probably next.  Both these two, and all other protestant churches were established soon after their particular denomination was established in the state.   All were really started a good while before they were actually organized.

Marcus Lodge No. 110 A.F. & A.M. was organized November 25th, 1848.  Madison Lodge No. 173  I.O.O. F. was chartered May 20th, 1868.  The first electric light and ice plant was built here in the year 1894 by H. Otto Thost and Walter Nifong.  Up until that time the candle and kerosene lamp had done full duty for lighting purposed, and Thomas and Lee Menteer, who operated for years the only ice cream parlor in the town often spoke of having to cut ice out of the rivers and creeks for their ice supply.

So far as can be determined the oldest house in town is the old Tilda Walden house on Mine La Motte Avenue, owned by F.C. Goldsmith . Followed probably by the building which now houses Hough’s Store. Other old houses are on South Main Street where G.M. Watts now lives and the Dr. Jenkins place.  Exact records are very hard to find on these old houses.  The Christoph house, part of the Methodist Church, part of the Methodist Church parsonage, and old Judge Ward place are other very old houses.  It may be interesting to know that they “mud house” near where Mrs. Cohen now lives, just north of the Presbyterian Church, was owned and built by a man by the name of Drue and the town post office was located in this building for a number of years.  The old brick jail stood in the northwest corner of the public square a little above the place of it’s present location and probably on lot on which the theatre stands.  The bad prisoners were kept in a dungeon.  It was twelve feet square and had a ladder, which the prisoners used to descend. Narrow openings with iron grates gave the only light & air to the prisoners.


To truly give a history of the town one must mentions some things outside it’s limits but still within the county.  For instance, the oldest house standing in the county is the old Beck homestead east of town and was built by George Nifong in the year 1790.  Mr. Nifong records that at the time of the building a large tribe of Indians lived just south across Saline Creek and that the country south from there, the present Cobalt Company Property, was all prairie land with scarcely no timber at all and was used as a hunting ground by Indians.  He also records that the southwestern part of the town was a swamp jungle and even the Indians avoided as near as possible this tract of land.   At the time that this house was built the main road from Mine La Motte passed near there and remained until about the time the railroad cam.  Traces of this old road may still be seen all the way through. 

The first grist or grain mill was built in Madison County in the year 1829, near the place of the old Catherine chat dump on the St. Francois River, on the land now owned by Davis and Whitener.  This old mill was the overshot water wheel type and was fed by a long mill race, of which traces may still be seen on this property.  It was dug by miners from Mine La Motte, who donated their work in order to have a mill in the neighborhood.   It was the only mill in many of the surrounding counties and people came many miles with their ox teams to have their feed ground.  A little way up the river at the foot of Murray Hill, a distillery was put into operation some time afterwards. Another flourishing industry in this section of the country was a Tan Yard Operated on what is now the Andrews darm about the year 1836.  Large vats were dug in the ground, filled with water, and the hides were put in with oak bark and tanned.   It was operated by Richard Britton.  During the latter part of it’s operation John Gholson brought the first steam engine into this section of the country.  He operated a saw and grist mill with it for a number of years.

The first session of the County Court of Madison County was held in the residence of Theodore F. Tong which was the old Toler home on South Main Street.  This was the year 1819.

Oil was discovered in the town in 1926 and drilling is now being done to further determine the amount and location of the main stream, if there be any.  A shirt factory was operated for a number of years and water works as well as a new school building have been put in.

The town has about 3,000 inhabitants with a number of industried and it may be of some interest to the inhabitants to lears this little sketch of the town’s history.  Probably each and all of you will appreciate the advantages that these early men have made possible, more than ever, and try to keep on the upward road in establishing the future history of the town.

  End Of Article.