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1882 History - Chapter 15

[Page 140] Chapter XV – Pocahontas Precinct

Prominent among the pioneers who first located in this precinct was William BURGESS, who came in shortly after the war of 1812, and settled just south of where Millersburg now is, on Sections 22 and 27. He was a volunteer in this war, and has no descendants living here at present. Joseph CRITCHFIELD, another very early settler, came in about the same time, and located on Section 25. His wife was for some time an inmate of the old fort (in Beaver Creek Precinct, and referred to elsewhere). He has still one descendant, Mrs. PRICHETT, living in the county. Joseph BILYEW, another early pioneer, came to this State prior to the war of 1812, and settled in Madison County. In 1817, he moved to this precinct and settled on Section 10. He has several great-grandchildren, at present residing in this county. A family named COLES settled east of where Millersburg now is, about 1820. John BILYEW came in as early as 1822, and settled on the land where Frank MEYERS now lives (near Pocahontas). He afterwards sold this farm to William MILLS. James NANCE settled on Section 27, in 1820. Samuel LEE came in prior to NANCWE, and located in the same neighborhood. William REAMS came in 1830, and settled in Section 28. A man named ROLTEN settled southwest of where Millersburg now is, about 1822, but on account of ill health he soon after moved away. John POWERS settled on Section 25 in 1820, but at present has no descendants living here.

About this time three brothers, Andrew, George and James GREEN, located on Shoal Creek, a little above POWERS. David WHITE, after whom White's Fort received its name, settled near them late in the same year. Isaac

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REED settled a little farther up the creek on Section 10 in 1820. The JOHNSONs and Williamson PLANT settled near where Pocahontas now is during the same year.

About 1833, Benjamin JOHNSON, accompanied by five brothers, Duncan, Charles, James P., Hugh and John P., came in and located near where the town of Pocahontas now stands. Benjamin was a large land owner, and at one time was a member of the Legislature from this district. He lived here until his death, which occurred in 1861. There are a number of the descendants of the JOHNSONs living here at present. About this time, came the SUGG family and the GILLESPIE family, from Tennessee, and the RIDGEWAYs from Ohio. Two men, named WEISE and STOCKLEY, settled in the southwest part of the precinct in 1833. Josiah FILE came in 1837, and was followed, in 1840, by Edward ELLIS, who is now the largest land owner in the precinct.

The early industries in Pocahontas Precinct were of the most primitive pattern. Among the first was a mill, built on Shoal Creek by Thomas STOUT about the year 1831. It was a saw-mill, run by water-power, but a small attachment for grinding purposes was afterward put in, which did not prove much of a success. The mill ceased operations in 1870, and has done nothing since. William BURGESS ran a small copper still on a spring branch on Section 26, but is ceased to live in 1828. About the time the town of Pocahontas was laid out, Duncan JOHNSON built a mill on Shoal Creek, but it has long since ceased to exist.

In early times, a great excitement was created on account of a belief that gold and silver was to be found in Bond County. To add to this excitement, Robert GILLESPIE, a settler who lived on Shoal Creek, a few miles above where the town of Pocahontas now stands, found some shining particles in a spring near his house and gathering them carefully together, he took them to St. Louis, and showed them to a fellow who pronounced them gold. For some time after this the fever ran high, but as time gradually elapsed and no more was found, the search was finally abandoned.

The Methodist Episcopal denomination organized a church at the house of Charles JOHNSON about the year 1820. Among the early members were Charles JOHNSON, the PLANT family, the WILLIAMS family, Harley VALENTINE and wife, and a part of the BILYEW family. Among the first class leaders was Henry WILLIAMS. The first church was built south of where the town of Pocahontas is now located, near where the depot now stands, sometime during the year 1826. It was a log building of the most primitive structure. About 1835, this organization erected a new frame church three and one-quarter miles west of the old log church. The next church was built in the village, in 1854. It was a frame building, 50 feet long and 34 feet in width, and cost about $1,500. The ground was donated by Benjamin JOHNSON, with the proviso that it should be open to all denominations, except Catholics and Mormons.

The town of Pocahontas was surveyed on the 21st day of March, 1838, by T. S. HUBBARD, for Benjamin JOHNSON, the proprietor. It is located in Section 3, Township 4 north, Range 4 west, nine miles southwest of Greenville, on the Vandalia Railroad. The town was first called Amity, and the post-office name was Hickory Grove. When this town was laid out Mr. JOHNSON (the founder) made provision that no lots were to be sold to any one unless they would agree not to handle liquors of any kind in any way. It is a well-known fact, that the Germans like their beer, and as most of the settlers were Germans, instead of locating in Pocahontas, they went to Highland, a neighboring village, and settled there. The plan proved to be a bad one, and after a few years it was abandoned.

Benjamin JOHNSON was the first Postmaster, and the first hotel was run by P. W. LAMPKINS

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in 1837. Benjamin JOHNSON owned the first blacksmith shop, and it was run by a smith named HERRON. The first store was a general merchandise establishment owned by Benjamin JOHNSON and Dr. FITCH, in 1836. Dr. GRIFFITH was the first physician, about 1843, and the first church building was erected in 1852 by the Methodist denomination.

At present Pocahontas is a flourishing village of a little over four hundred inhabitants. It contains three churches, a flouring mill, owned by W. S. WAIT, one furniture store, one agricultural implement store, the Union Hotel, kept by William JUSTI, and the Western Hotel, kept by Henry IDLER, three blacksmith shops, two wagon-maker's shops, one harness shop run by Frank SENN, two millinery establishments, one barber shop. Leopold KNOBEL and Joseph LEIBLER buy grain, and John SNYDER and John MEYERS deal in stock. There are also two dry goods stores and one grocery store. A. A. SIMMS is the Justice of the Peace, and Drs. John GORDON and J. R. CLINTON represent the medical fraternity. The present Postmaster is H. C. CHALLIS.

But little need be said concerning the schools of Pocahontas. The land on which the first school building was erected was donated by Benjamin JOHNSON for the purpose of building an academy thereon. At its completion, in 1854, it was put in the charge of Prof. CAVANAUGH (a minister), of Lebanon.

The first Trustees were Benjamin JOHNSON, N. LEAVERTON, W. MILLS, B. KAVANAUGH, P. LAMPKINS, D. JOHNSON and L. D. PLANT, who gave it the name of Amity Academy. The academy was run according to the original plan for some time, but on account of its being so far in advance of the times, it was not sufficiently patronized to warrant the management in continuing it as an academy, and finally the project was given up. At present the building is used as the public school in District No. 4, and is the only school in the village of Pocahontas.

The "Gordon Lodge", of A., F. & A. M., was organized at Millersburg October 3, 1866, by Grand Master BROMWELL, but in 1867 was moved to Pocahontas. The first officers were: James GORDON, W. M.; Edward TETER, S. W.; Robert ELEGOOD, J. W.; R. J. COLLIN, Treasurer, and A. J. GULLICK, Secretary. The charter members were: Sidney and Harvey COLE, William CASEY, Robert ELEGOOD, Bellfield FEATHERSTON, James GORDON, A. J. GULLICK, Edward TETER, John C. GORDON, Isaac HOWELL, Jacob LINDLEY, J. M. LUCAS, James PIGG, Franklin PRESSGROVE and P. C. REED. The present officers are: S. H. CHALLIS, W. M.; Joseph DEVER, S. W.; J. M. MINOR, J. W.; George POWELL, Secretary; John GORDON, Treasurer; Morris MARGOOD, S. D.; and Joseph HUNTER, J. D.. The lodge at present has a membership of about twenty, is in a flourishing, prosperous condition, and has about $800 in the Treasury. For some time after the removal of the lodge from Millersburg to Pocahontas, they held their meeting in the schoolhouse, but since 1873 they have occupied a large, convenient lodge room of their own.

Lodge No. 177, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was organized on the 12th day of October, 1855, by James STARR, the Grand Master of the State. The charter members were: R. K. DEWEY, George H. DEWEY, A. W. GREENWOOD, R. T. SPRAGUE and J. F. SUGG. The first officers were: R. K. DEWEY, N. G.; R. C. SPRAGUE, V. G.; A. W. GREENWOOD, Secretary; and J. F. SUGG, Treasurer. The lodge held their meetings in the schoolhouse, until in the fall of 1873, when they moved into the hall they now occupy. The lodge is at present in good condition, having about twenty-two members, and $700 in the hands of their Treasurer. They built their hall in 1873, at a cost of about $3,000, but the building has since been purchased by S. H. CHALLIS. The present officers are: H. E. REED, N. G.; Joseph NEATHAMMER, V. G.; John ROBINSON, Treasurer, and W. S. WAIT, Secretary.

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The A. O. of U. W. was organized by C. W. SEWELL, District Deputy, in June, 1880. The charter members were: W. M. HAYS, F. E. JANDT, William JUSTI, Frank MEYER, James CHISWELL, J. M. MINOR, Joseph Lawrence and John NEATHAMMER, L. B. LONG, William BOLT, Jacob SEGAR, Harmon TREADBAR, Hartman GRUNER, Perry REED, Fred FILE, Philip LEIBLER, Frank HOCHDAFER, H. E. REED, W. E. SMITH, D. C. HESTON and J. A. HAMPTON. The officers who have filled the places since the organization of the lodge are: W. M. HAYS, M. W.; F. E. JANDT, Recorder; J. M. MINOR, Financier; H. E. REED, Receiver; W. E. SMITH, P. M. W.; Fred FILE, Overseer, and William JUSTI, Foreman. At present, the lodge is in a thriving condition, and is growing steadily in popularity and members. They hold their meetings in the Odd Fellows hall, and have a regular attendance of about twenty-two members.

The Good Templar Lodge was organized February 9, 1881, with ninety charter members. The first officers were Z. T. HENDRICKS, Worthy Chief; Miss Laura STEVENS, Vice Worthy Chief; E. BALCH, P. W.; H. HATCHET, Secretary; Miss Jennie HARNED, Assistant; C. PHELPS, Financial Secretary; Joseph DEVER, Chaplain; E. ALDERMAN, Marshal; Fannie SAVAGE, assistant; John SAVAGE, Outside Guard, and Miss Hannah CHALLIS, Inside Guard. The lodge has at present a membership of about forty-five, and meetings are held regularly every Thursday evening in Remick's Hall. John JETT is the present Worthy Chief; E. ALDERMAN acts as Secretary, and Mrs. BRIDGEWATER is Treasurer.

The Catholic Church was organized in the spring of 1869, by Father Peter PETERS. Among the first members were: John M. GILMORE and wife, Louis LOUX and wife, Mr. SCHWEDENMAN and wife, George HOCHDEFER and wife, George ARNOLD and wife, George HANSILMAN and wife, father and two sons; Charles KUEBEL and wife, Tom RYAN and wife, Charles ROVOLT and Frank RUDOLPH and wife. The society worshiped in a private house, which they purchased and used as a place of worship until the erection of their present church building in 1872. It is a frame building fifty feet long and twenty-six feet in width, and cost about $2,400. It was dedicated by Bishop BATTLES. For some time after the organization of this church, it was under the care of the Franciscan priests of Teutopolis, Ill., but of late years it has been under the pastorate of regular priests. The first Trustees were Leo EISENPRIS and John SENN. The present Trustees are Baptist EISENPRIS, Timothy COFFEE, Frank SENN and Fred EISENPRIS. The Treasurer is Frank SENN, and the priest now in charge is Rev. A. KERSTING. About forty families now belong to the church.

The United Baptist Church was organized on the 10th day of January, 1873, by Peter LONG. The church was formed from members of the old Mount Nebo Church in Ripley Precinct. The first members were Albert RAY and wife, S. N. JETT, Agnes E. JETT, Mildred WAIT, Mary BRIDGEWATER, Catharine HARVEY and W. C. HARVEY. Albert RAY and S. N. JETT were the first Deacons, and W. C. HARVEY was the first clerk. The society worshiped at the houses of the members until in the spring of 1874; a church fifty feet long and thirty feet wide was erected at a cost of about $1,400. The first Trustees were Lee WAIT, J. G. SCOTT and S. N. JETT. The present Trustees are N. BRIDGEWATER and Louisa C. GILMORE. The church at present is under the pastorate of Rev. J. H. JONES, has about twenty-five members, and is in good running order. It belongs to the Apple Creek Association, over which Peter LONG is Moderator. A flourishing Sunday-school is conducted in connection with the church, under the superintendency of Lawrence STEVENS. An interesting Bible school of about fifty scholars is also taught regularly every Sunday.

Millersburg is a small village situated in the southern part of the precinct. It was laid off by William BURGESS from Kentucky, and

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received its name from a man named Charles MILLER, who built the first mill. The first store was run by David C. BALDRIDGE, who built the first house erected in the village. Fritz HACKICK was the first blacksmith. At present it is a flourishing little hamlet of between one and two hundred inhabitants. It contains one store run by Peter MINGES, three blacksmith shops, one wagon shop, run by John DISHOUSER; one schoolhouse and one saloon. The post office name is "Baden Baden", and Clem WILLIAMS is the present Postmaster. Only three mails are received each week. The mill is run at present by Peter STRIFE, and is doing only a moderate business. There are no churches in the town. Recently, for the convenience of citizens living in the southern part of the precinct, a sub-voting place has been established at Millersburg. This sub-voting precinct includes a part of the southern portion of Pocahontas Precinct, and a couple of tiers of sections off the western side of Beaver Creek Precinct, but as yet no lines have been made on our maps to indicate it, and it was doubtless made more for convenience than anything else.

Pierron, a small village of about one hundred inhabitants, is situated near the midway of the western boundary line of the county, a part of it lying in Bond County and a part in Madison County, though most of the business portion lies in this county. It was laid off in 1868, by J. PIERRON, who built and ran the first store. August PIERRON was the first Postmaster. At present the town is in a prosperous condition, and contains one store run by Suppiger & Utiger; two blacksmith shops, one on each side of the county line; two wagon shops; one elevator owned by Kuebel & Co.; three hotels, only one of which is in this county, namely, the "Oak Dale House.” A. A. PIERRON and Louis SCHNERT handle agricultural implements, and A. A. SUPPIGER is the present Postmaster.

Transcribed by Norma Hass from the History of Bond and Montgomery Counties Illinois, published in 1882, Part I, pages 140-144

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