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1882 History - Chapter 7

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... The remarks upon this road, as well as the old internal improvement system, are but prefatory to the subjoined sketch of the Mississippi & Atlantic Railroad, now so extensively and favorably know everywhere as the “Vandalia Line.” The history of this famous railroad thoroughfare is written by Mr. Williamson PLANT, who has been connected with it from the very inception of the enterprise, and is perfectly familiar with its career from the original survey to the present time. He has written it up fully, and the article will be found interesting to all the friends of the road. It is as follows:

The first railroad that gave any assurance to the people of being built through Bond County was the Mississippi & Atlantic Railroad from St. Louis through Greenville, Vandalia, Terre Haute, connecting with lines to New York.

One of the most earnest workers for that road was the Hon. William S. WAIT, who was one of Bond County's oldest and most respected citizens. His letter written in June, 1863, to ex-Gov. B. Gratz BROWN, of St. Louis, will fully explain the difficulties that surrounded, and finally overcame that road:

"The railroad projected so early as 1835 to

[Page 55] run from St. Louis to Terre Haute, was intended as the commencement of a direct line of railway to the Atlantic cities, and its first survey (of which a copy is enclosed) was taken over the exact line of the great "Cumberland" road. We applied to the Illinois Legislature for a charter in 1846, but were opposed by rival interests, that finally succeeded in establishing two lines of railroad connecting St. Louis with the Wabash - one by a line running north, and the other by a line running south of our survey, thus demonstrating by the unfailing test of physical geography that our line is the central and true one. The two rival lines alluded to, viz., Terre Haute & Alton and Ohio & Mississippi. We organized our company with the name of the 'Mississippi & Atlantic Railroad', in 1850, by virtue of a General Railroad Law passed the year previous, and immediately accomplished a survey. An adverse decision of our Supreme Court led us to accept the offer of Eastern capitalists to help us through, who immediately took nine-tenths of the stock, and gave us John BROUGH for President. Our right to construct was finally confirmed in February, 1854; the road put under contract, and the work commenced. The shock given to all railroad enterprise by the "Schuyler fraud" suspended operations, and before confidence was restored, the controlling power, which was enthroned in Wall street, had arrived at the conclusion, as we afterward discovered, to proceed no further in the construction of the Mississippi & Atlantic Railroad. For purposes best understood by themselves, the Easter managers amused us for several years with the hope that they were still determined to prosecute the work. When we were finally convinced of the intentional deception, we abandoned the old charter and instituted a new company under the name of the 'Highland & St. Louis Railroad Company' with power to build and complete by sections the entire road from St. Louis to Terre Haute. The charter was obtained in February, 1859, with the determination on the part of the Highland corporators to make no delay in constructing the section connecting them with St. Louis, but were prevented at the outset by difficulties, since overcome, and afterward by the existing rebellion."

The foregoing letter portrays truthfully some of the prominent difficulties with which Bond and other counties on the central line had to contend. State policy was openly urged by many of the leading men north and south of the "Brough road", as it was generally called. Hon. Sidney BREEZE, a long resident of Carlisle, on the line of the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad, publicly declared for that doctrine, "that it was to the interest of the State to encourage the policy that would build the most roads through the State; that the north and south roads (alluded to in Mr. WAIT's letter) should first be allowed to get into successful operation, when the central line should then be chartered, as the merits of that line would insure the building the raid on that line at once, giving to Middle Illinois three roads instead of one, as the chartering of the central line first would be a death blow to the other two, at least for many long years to come." Mr. WAIT replied immediately, saying it was the first instance he had ever known where the merits of a railroad line had been urged as a reason why it should not meet with merited encouragement, and after more than $100,000 was expended on the "Brough" road, further work on it was, of the necessity before referred to, suspended.

In February, 1865, the rebellion nearing its close, the people along the "Central Line", or "Brough" survey, again renewed their petition to the Illinois Legislature for a negotiation of their right to build their railroad on their long-cherished route.

On the 10th of February, 1865, a liberal charter was granted for building the pres-

[Page 56] ent St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute Railroad. The line was designated in the charter as "commencing on the left bank of the Mississippi
River, opposite St. Louis, running thence eastwardly through Greenville, the county seat of Bond County, and through Vandalia, by the most eligible route, to a point on the River Wabash." The persons named therein as incorporators were Henry WING, T. W. LITTLE, John S. DEWY, Andrew MILLS, Solomon KOEPILI, Garritt CROWNOVER, Curtis BLAKEMAN, William S. SMITH, Charles HOILES, William S. WAIT, John B. HUNTER, Williamson PLANT, Andrew G. HENRY, Jediah F. ALEXANDER, Nathaniel M. McCURDY, August H. DIECKMANN, Ebenezer CAPPS, Frederick REMANN, Mathias FEHREN, Michael LYNCH, Thomas L. VEST. J. F. WASCHFORT, Samuel W. QUINN, Chauncey ROSE and Joseph H. MORGAN. The citizens of Bond County led in the enterprise of building the road, not only by words, but by liberal individual and county subscriptions. The county, small in territory, made the liberal subscription of $100,000, payable in fifteen annual installments, with 10 per cent annual interest, all of which has been met promptly, and at this date only $16,000 remain due, all of which will be paid this year, the tax being already collected for that purpose, and Bond County will be free from debt, but the advantages in the use of the road to the people, and the yearly tax paid by the railroad company will continue as long as taxes are levied and collected. The railroad tax paid in Bond County for 1881 amounted to $4,374.29. The individual subscriptions in Bond County were some $46,000 at Greenville and $24,000 at Pocahontas, were not only promptly paid as called for, but some half dozen citizens of Greenville, viz., W. W. SMITH, J. F. ALEXANDER, Williamson PLANT, Andrew G. HENRY and others, gave to the Highland subscribers their individual guaranty to refund their $65,000 subscribed by them and being then paid out on call as the work progressed, if the road was not finished to Highland by July 1, 1868, as per condition in their subscriptions.


The first meeting of the Board of Corporators was held at Vandalia, Ill., on the 14th day of November, 1865, for the purpose of organizing and electing a Board of nine Directors, with following result: John SCHOLFIELD, and Charles DUNCAN, Clark County, Ill.; Samuel QUINN, Cumberland County, Ill.; J. P. M. HOWARD and L. W. LITTLE, Effingham County, Ill.; C. Floyd JONES and F. REMANN, Fayette County, Ill.; William S. SMITH and Williamson PLANT, Bond County, Ill.

[Page 57] At the first meeting of the Board of Directors held at Effingham on the 22d day of November, 1865, for the purpose of electing the first officers of the company, H. P. M. HOWARD was elected President, and Williamson PLANT, Secretary.

Through the influence of E. C. RICE, who was chief engineer of the “Brough” survey, and had made estimates for the work under the same, Gen. E. F. WINSLOW, a gentleman of great energy and considerable railroad experience, after various propositions being made to build part of the line, or parts of the road, contracted, August 22, 1866, to build the entire line from the “west bank of the Wabash, to the east end of the dyke at Illinoistown.” The contract was finally ratified at a meeting of the Board of Directors held at Vandalia November 14, 1866. An additional agreement was entered into November 28, 1866, and made part of the original.

The first shock received by the Railroad Company in the outset, was the lamented death of its earnest leader and judicious friend, Hon. William S. WAIT, July 17, 1865, thereby depriving them of his mature judgment and wise counsel in making and carrying out the contract about to be entered into for the building of the road under the charter so recently obtained from the Legislature.

In 1867, first mortgage bonds were put on the “property, rights, franchises, leases and estate,” etc., of the company to amount of $1,900,000. ...

By mutual understanding between the contractor and the company, E. C. RICE was engaged as Chief Engineer of the company January 18, 1867, and he commenced the first survey on the west end of the line in March, and the grading was begun as soon as the line was fixed at the west end, in April following. At the same meeting a code of by-laws was adopted, and Greenville was designated as the general office of the company.

At the annual election held in January, 1867, J. P. M. HOWARD was re-elected President, Williamson PLANT, Secretary, and W. S. SMITH, Treasurer. April 3, 1867, Mr. HOWARD gave up the position, on request, and J. F. ALEXANDER was chosen President of the Company in his place. ...

At the annual election in January, 1868, five Directors from Bond County were chosen out of the nine, viz.: J. F. ALEXANDER, W. S. SMITH, Andrew G. HENRY, William S. WAIT, Jr., and Francis DRESSOR. The same officers, J. F. ALEXANDER, President, Williamson PLANT, Secretary, and William S. SMITH, all from Bond County, were re-elected, giving Bond County again all the officers and a majority of the Directors. ...

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By the consent of the railroad, company Gen. WINSLOW as contractor was paid $120,000 for labor expended on the line to the 10th day of February, 1868, and at his request was released from his contracts. The same was ratified and accepted by the company at their meeting March 13, 1868. The railroad company entered into a contract February 10, 1868, with Thomas L. JEWETT and B. E. SMITH, of Ohio; George B. ROBERTS, of Philadelphia, and W. R. McKEEN, of Terre Haute, in the firm name of McKEEN, SMITH & Co., to complete the road at an early day. At the same time and place an agreement was entered into, leasing the St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute Railroad to the Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad Company. In the report of the President of the Vandalia Company made to the stockholders at their annual meeting held at Greenville, Ill., January 6, 1872, he says:


[Page 59] ... Vandalia Railroad ...

Presidents – J. P. M. HOWARD, Effingham, Ill., November 22, 1865, to April 3, 1867; J. F. ALEXANDER, Greenville, Ill., April 3, 1867, to February 15, 1871; George B. ROBERTS, Philadelphia, February 15, 1871, to January 11, 1876; Thomas D. MESSLER, Pittsburgh, January 11, 1876, to present time.

Treasurers - William S. SMITH, Greenville, Ill., January 18,1867, to April 14, 1869; Williamson PLANT, Greenville, Ill., April 14, 1869, to February 15, 1871; Albert HEWSON, Philadelphia, February 15, 1871, to June 26, 1871; William P. SHINN, Pittsburgh, June 26, 1871, to January 11, 1876; W. H. BARNES, Pittsburgh, January 11, 1876, to present time.

Secretary, Williamson PLANT, Greenville, Ill., November 22, 1865, to present time.

Superintendents and General Managers – R. B. LEWIS, first Superintendent in 1868; J. W. CONLOGUE, second Superintendent, 1869 and 1870; Charles R. PEDDLE, third Superintendent, 1869, 1870 and 1871; Maj. John E. SIMPSON, General Superintendent, from 1870 to 1876, and General Manager from 1876 to the time of his death in August, 1880; Joshua STAPLES, Superintendent, 1877 to 1880; D. W. CALDWELL, General Manager, after the death of Maj. SIMPSON, August, 1880, to May 1, 1882; Joseph HILL< General Superintendent, from January 1, 1881, to the present time, and since the resignation of Mr. CALDWELL, May 1, 1882, has the entire management of the Vandalia line from St. Louis to Indianapolis.

H. W. HIBBARD has very acceptably filled the responsible position of General Freight Agent of the Vandalia line to Indianapolis for the past ten years or more. C. R. PEDDLE has been Master Machinist and Superintendent of Machinery, etc., since 1870 to present time; and held the same position with the Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad, for fourteen years continuously before 1870. H. W. BILLINGS was the first General Solicitor of the company. John SCHOLFIELD was General Solicitor for the company from May 1, 1870, until he resigned to accept the Supreme Judgeship to which he had been elected in the latter part of 1873. R. W. THOMPSON, of Terre Haute, was appointed January 13, 1874. Mr. THOMPSON held that position until he was selected by President HAYES, in 1877, as one of his Cabinet (Secretary of the Navy). John G. WILLIAMS, the present General

[Page 60] Solicitor of the company, was appointed in 1877.

... F. M. COLBUN, General Ticket Agent, St. Louis; W. S. RONEY, Auditor; N. K. ELLIOTT, Master of Transportation, and many others will be readily recalled.

The intelligent traveler will soon make the acquaintance of the many gentlemanly conductors on this line, who view with each other to make the passengers feel at home whilst riding in the "Vandalia" cars. In his memory he will carry the names of John WISE, John McMAHON, John TRINDLE, Samuel TRINDLE, L. D. HIBBARD, Joseph HASELTON, Richard CORNELL, D. T. CONWAY, Curtis PADDOCK, John T. ELLIOTT and A. E. ROBBINS. The station agents at Greenville have been: First, S. B. HYNES; second, J. E. HUNT; third, M. W. Van VALKENBURG, and fourth, our present efficient and affable agent, W. S. OGDEN. Pocahontas has had, among others, P. POWELL, Mr. RECORD and W. H. SPRADLING, present incumbent. Mulberry Grove, among others, Pitts POWELL; M. J. ROBINSON, present incumbent. W. D. HYNES, mail agent since the road started from Greenville, having held his place until the present, is worthy of mention, a period of nearly fourteen years.

The general management of the St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute Railroad is in the hands of W. R. McKEEN, President of the Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad Company, as lessee, who has, by his judicious management, and the management of those acting under and in harmony with him, made it one of the most popular lines in the United States.

Col. J. HILL, a gentleman of large railroad experience, has been General Superintendent since January 1, 1881, and has had full control of the line as General Superintendent since the resignation of General Manager D. W. CALDWELL, May 1, 1882. ...

[Page 61] and should be honestly supported by all enterprising and wide-awake people. The press of Bond County merits an extended notice in this work, and the following sketch of the Greenville Advocate is compiled from an article published in its columns, January 19, 1882:

With this issue the Advocate goes to its many readers as No. 1 of Vol. XXV. In other words, it enters upon its twenty-fifth year, or quarter of a century of service. As with individuals and nations, so with newspaper proprietors, there is a pleasure in looking back over the past history on special occasions. Inasmuch as readers have as much, though not exactly the same, interest in their paper that its editor has, it is quite appropriate that this historical review should not be confined to the editor’s easy chair, but given to the public through the columns which all read – especially since about all the day-dreaming an editor finds time to indulge in must flow from the nib of his pen. Though the Advocate proper, and by that name, is scarcely yet twenty-five years old, it is really a continuation of previous journalism, which only the oldest settlers will remember. It seems that in this review a brief notice of that and cotemporaneous journalism will not be out of place, and that it should come in the order of the respective papers

Of The Barn-Burner, nothing is preserved, and the memory of the men of that time has been resorted to in order to get even a trace of its existence. Since then, however, everything has been preserved, and all the back numbers that could be obtained have been securely bound, and are kept in a convenient place for reference. The first that is accessible of the above is No. 30 of Volume I of the Protestant Monitor. This was the first paper ever issued in Bond County. As its name indicates, it was a religious paper. By counting the numbers backward from the number just mentioned, which bears the date of Wednesday, January 6, 1846, it will appear that the first number was issued about the 16th of June, 1845, or more than thirty-six years ago – over a third of a century ago. It was owned and published by Mr. E. M. LATHRAP. ...

On Friday, September 13, 1850, the Greenville Journal issued No. 37, Vol. 3. This was a four-page paper about the size of the first Monitor. J. F. ALEXANDER appears as its editor at this time, though in the absence of other back files we are obliged to rely on the recollection of O. BUCHANAN, that it was first owned by John WAITE. According to Messrs. O. BUCHANAN and J. Harvey ALEXANDER, J. F. ALEXANDER was in partnership with Mr. WAITE for a short time, when he bought out his interest, but subsequently re-sold the entire concern back again to Mr. WAITE. Mr. WAITE again sold out, this time, to ALEXANDER Brothers, Harvey and Cal., who had been working in the office. These two sold to another brother, D. W. ALEXANDER, and he in turn to Dr. SMITH, whose widow, Mrs. Mary SMITH, Greenville citizens remember as a resident of this city only a few years since. Mr. John HARPER also owned the paper, but wheth-

[Page 62] er he sold out to J. F. ALEXANDER, the records do not show.

It should be noticed that while Mr. WAITE had the Journal, J. F. ALEXANDER started and conducted for about one year the "Barn-Burner", as an organ of the extreme, or as we would now say, Stalwart Free-Soilers, who in New York had acquired the name of "barn burners" and who were for Martin VanBUREN. This was the first journalistic venture of Mr. ALEXANDER, and died out soon after the election. It was printed in the Journal office. A copy of the first issue was sent to Martin VanBUREN, who soon acknowledged the receipt of it in a letter of thanks to the editor, enclosing also a five-dollar bill. Mr. Charles HOILES remembers having the bill shown to him and further says that it was considered a big thing in those times. This change was without material difference in the paper or its management, except that J. F. ALEXANDER was left to give his time to editing the paper by D. W. ALEXANDER’s entering the office as publisher. The Journal, as has since been the record of the paper, supported what are now distinctive Republican principles either settled or undergoing that process. Beneath the picture of a hand holding a pen, are the Fremont and Dayton tickets, followed by the State ticket.

Next we find the American Courier, of which No. 47, of Vol. I, bears the date of May 21, 1857. Othniel BUCHANAN was editor and proprietor. The entire outfit for this paper was purchased new at St. Louis, by Thomas RUSSELL and Othniel BUCHANAN. Mr. RUSSELL, however, retired in about a year, leaving Mr. BUCHANAN alone. This outfit was the nucleus from which the present Advocate equipment has been developed. That identical hand press is still in this office. This outfit, press and all, cost $800 in St. Louis, whence it was ordered shipped to Carlyle. About the time it was expected at Carlyle, a wagon was driven over after it. Failing to find it at Carlyle, it was thought that the shipment had been made to Hillsboro. At the latter place some one told the “office-seeker” that he had seen a printing press traveling toward Vandalia, where the searchers were fortunate enough to find it. So the Courier continued a very readable paper of the dimensions of the present Advocate, only that it was a single instead of a double sheet. It should be stated that O. BUCANAN purchased of J. F. ALEXANDER the Journal office, and subsequently sold both the Journal and the Courier to Alexander & Bro., consisting of J. F. and J. H. ALEXANDER, who, after a while, disposed of the Journal outfit to a Scotchman named Parson PERCY, who took it to Stanton, Macoupin Co. Thus it will be seen that none of the Monitor or Journal material is now in Greenville.


It might be well enough to state here, that John H. HAWLEY, who is now, and has been for three years, one of the Advocate force, worked on the Greenville Advocate in 1860-61, commencing the 14th day of November, 1860. J. F. ALEXANDER was editor, and Thomas RUSSELL foreman. The paper at that time being less than half its present size, about one good man, and a country boy like Mr. HAWLEY, was then all that was necessary to do the work. The only machinery about the office was the old hand-press, now in use. On the editorial page an

[Page 63 - Portrait of Williamson PLANT]
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[Page 65] “Educational Department” was conducted by Thomas W. HYNES, who still continues a warm friend and occasional contributor to the Advocate. An article from his pen on “Our Early Local History” urged the formation of an old settlers’ society, that the early incidents might not be forgotten, and that memories of the past might be preserved.

During the late rebellion, J. F. ALEXANDER was succeeded as publisher and proprietor of the Advocate by his brother, E. J. C. ALEXANDER, who continued the paper until August, 1865, when his interest was transferred to S. C. MACE, who managed the paper alone until April of 1866, when he associated with him T. O. SHENICK, as publisher, who combined his energy with Mr. MACE, giving the public the only local reading in the county, till March, 1869, when Mr. MACE was again left alone. In November, 1871, Mr. MACE sold out to Samuel B. HYNES, under whose proprietorship, his father, Rev. Thomas W. HYNES, had the editorial and general management of the Advocate, which, with the beginning of the year 1872, they had changed from a four page with eight columns to an eight-page paper of six columns each, considerably smaller than its present size. This form was retained for two years, when the former dimensions were again adopted. From Mr. HYNES the Advocate was purchased by George M. TATHAM, the present proprietor and editor. This was October 1, 1873. Since that time the Advocate has steadily increased in size, never decreasing, and often requiring large supplements, so that readers might not be stinted by the pressure of advertisements. From a subscription list of about five hundred, many for wood and produce, which often never came, the present editor acknowledges the appreciation of the reading community to the extent of over twelve hundred subscriptions, all settled for, and an influence extending over the entire county, and not unnoticed in neighboring counties, States and cities.


The Sun, published by William BOLL and Fordyce C. CLARK, at Greenville, is the successor of the Bond County Democrat, which was started by J. B. ANDERSON, June 2, 1876. On the 25th of January, 1877, Boll & Clark bought the paper, and changed its name form Bond County Democrat to the Sun. They worked up the circulation from 400 pay-as-you-please subscribers in 1877, to an edition of 1,280, on the cash-in-advance rule, reaching that circulation during the campaign of 1880.

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Transcribed by Norma Hass from the History of Bond and Montgomery Counties Illinois, published in 1882, Part I, pages 54-66.

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