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From History of Greene and Jersey Counties, Illinois, Springfield, IL: Continental Historical Co., 1885, pp. 257 – 274. There will be typographical errors.
The first settlement in Elsah township is believed to have been made by William Bates, undoubtedly one of the first permanent settlers. He came to his county in 1817, and took up his location in what is now Elsah township. He erected a cabin on section 25, about a quarter of a mile from Piasa creek, on land now belonging to the widow of John Locke. He was a native of South Carolina, and on coming to Illinois, he stopped, for a time, at the block house between Edwardsville and St. Louis, and then to this county. He was married when he came here. One of his daughters married James Redden; one married Abel Moore, whose two children were killed by the Indians at the Wood river massacre; another daughter married Josiah Askew. Bates buried three wives in this county, and he was married five times. Some persons were consoling him on the loss of a wife, and the necessity of his thereafter living alone. Bates said, “Oh, I could easily get another, if I just had time to go out and hunt one.” Bates was a very small man, and was known among the early settlers as being the most diminutive among them. He sold out his place to John Bostwick and others, about 1835, who laid out there the town of Randolph, and he moved away to the farm of his son-in-law, Abel Moore, about two miles northeast of Shurtleff College, at Upper Alton, where he died.
A man by the name of Watson effected a settlement in the eastern part of the township about the year 1818, accompanied by his son, Matthew. None of the family are living a present and it is not known what became of these pioneers.
One of the few settlers of 1818 was Edward Carroll, of whom not a great deal is remembered among the early settlers, as he died within a few years after coming to the county and when the settlement of the county was in a comparatively very crude condition. His descendents have, however, been identified with the county and vicinity for a space of time equaling that of a long lifetime, and two of his three children are living at the time of this writing. He was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, in 1780. He was reared in his native country, and there learned a trade, that of tanner and currier. Being in Ireland at the time of the rebellion of 1798, he was engaged on the patriot side in that struggle. In 1801 he emigrated to America, landing at the port of New York. From there he went to New Jersey, locating in Sussex county, near New Town, where he worked at his trade. While working there he was married to Mary Wright, a niece of Gen. Greene, of Revolutionary fame. Her father also served on the side of the colonists all through that memorable struggle. After his marriage Edward started in business for himself, sinking a tan-yard and engaging quite extensively in the manufacture of leather. He continued the business with profit until, his health failing, he determined to sell out and travel. He finally brought up in Stark county, O. This was before the last war with Great Britain, and that part of Ohio was then a howling wilderness, and the Indians who infested that vicinity were then on the rampage. All through the war of 1812 the family lived there, and the trials there undergone by them may be understood by a perusal of the history of the times.
Having determined to penetrate further into the western wilds, in 1817, Edward left his family in Ohio, and with a brother-in-law, James Moffitt, came out to the vicinity of the Mississippi river. Gen Whiteside, who was himself contemplating a trip, offered to go with them on a tour of the country further north. They traveled through Madison and what are now Jersey and Greene counties, and were as far as the neighborhood of the present city of Springfield, thus getting a pretty good idea of the advantages for settlement offered by different regions on the route. The result of the trip seems to have determined them in favor of what is now Jersey county, for the brothers-in-law returned, as they had come, on horseback, to Ohio, and began preparations for moving their families out in the following spring. The last traces of winter had hardly vanished in the lap of spring when Edward, mounting a hardy steed, was once more on his way across the trackless route of alternating prairie and timber, bound for his new Eldorado. The family, again left behind, were to take the river route, and under the guidance of Moffitt, were to find the spot selected, where Edward was to have a cabin ready for occupancy. That spring he labored in the wilderness, and on the arrival of the family, on the 17th day of July, 1818, he was found alone at the new home, with everything ready for occupancy. He had two log houses and a stable of the same material built, about the center of section 23, in what is now Elsah township. He began to improve this place, but thinking the other side of Mill creek better suited for a place of residence, he went over there and built a two-story hewed log house, moving his family into it in the summer of 1819. That same spring he had sunk a tan-pit on the place, having a number of French workmen from Portage to help in its construction. This work was never completed according to the plan he had adopted, though considerable leather was tanned there, considering the extreme newness of the country for any enterprise of this kind. Edward died on the 14th day of June, 1823. They took his body across the river and he was interred at Portage, there being no regular place of burial on this side of the Mississippi, in that vicinity. He had served on the first petit jury of Greene county, in 1822, (Jersey and Greene being then one county), and at that term of court was one of the jury in the notorious Dixon robbery case, which occurred within the present limits of Jersey county. Mrs. Edward Carroll died near Otterville, on the 24th of Feb., 1852, and is buried in the family graveyard, which lies on the John Dougherty farm. Mr. and Mrs. Edward Carroll were the parents of three children. The eldest, Catherine, born in Sussex county, N.J., in 1805, was married in 1823 to Samuel Lofton, and is now deceased, her only surviving child being Mary Agnes, widow of Ephriam Fredenburg.
Charles Wright Carroll, the second child of Edward Carroll, was born in Stark county, Ohio, on the 16th day of Aug., 1815. He came to this county with his parents in 1818, and was reared here. He was married in Alton, July 20, 1863, to Bradley, a native of Maryland, and daughter of Henry Bradley. He is now living in Otterville, and is one of the few early pioneers still surviving, having lived within her borders longer than Illinois has been a state. Thomas Edward Carroll, the youngest of the three children of Edward Carroll, and the second white child born in what is now Jersey county, was born in what is now Elsah township, Jersey county, at his parents’ home, on Sec. 23, on the 2d day of Feb., 1820. He married Bridget Fitzgerald, and the couple, with their children live in Macoupin county, not far from Litchfield, the metropolis of Montgomery county.
James Moffitt also came out with the Carroll family. He had been out with Edward Carroll, in 1817, on his trip of exploration.
John Carroll and family, a brother of Edward, settled on the farm owned by James Seagraves, in 1819. He was a native of Ireland, but came to this township from Ohio. He resided here until his death, which occurred in Jan., 1837, and his wife following him in Feb., 1844. Out of a family of ten, all are dead at present except one daughter, Mary, who is now the widow of Thomas Cummings, and resides in Mississippi township.
Isaac Terry came in 1830, locating in Elsah township. He was born in Hancock county, Va., in 1800. He died here in 1871. His son James C., now lives in the township, and is one of its best men.
Among the people of Elsah who reflect credit on that section of the county are the following, whose sketches are given.
George Piggott, a well known and prosperous farmer of Elsah township, is a native of Jersey county, Ill., born near Newbern. He remained with his parents till 21 years of age, then worked out, at farming, in different places until the fall of 1864. At that date he enlisted in the 144th Reg. of Ill. Inft., becoming a member of Co. H., commanded by Capt. Pitt. He served until July, 1865, when he was mustered out at Springfield, Ill., and returned to Jersey county. In 1866, he was married to Hannah M. Snider, who was born April 15, 1840. They have had eight children: James H., born Nov. 11, 1866; Elnora M., born April 26, 1869; Ulysses L., born Feb. 18, 1871; Hetty J., born Nov. 13, 1877; Minnie L., born Sept. 20, 1882; Lelie B. and Lula D., twins, born Aug. 22, 1873; Lellie B. died Sept. 21, 1877, and Lulu D., Oct. 15, 1873; Arvilla E., born May 2, 1875, and died Nov. 21, 1882. Mr. Piggott owns 144 acres of valuable land located on sections 5, 6, 9 and 11, Elsah township, and has comfortable improvements. He is a member of the I.O.O.F., and of the G.A.R. post, No. 206, of Elsah. He is a republican politically.
Jacob Kesler, a leading farmer of Elsah township, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sept. 10, 1841. He resided with his parents until 18 years of age. In 1860 he went to St. Charles county, Mo., where he remained for a time, then went to St. Joseph, thence to Kansas City, after which he returned to Cincinnati, where he continued until 1870. During his period he spent three years in the army, enlisting in Co. K, of the 33d Reg. of Mo. Vol. He was mustered out at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, in 1865. Jan. 18, 1872, he was married at St. Charles, Mo., to Rebecca Hansel, a daughter of Richard and Lydia (Plumber) Hansel. She was born April 13, 1849. Four children have been born to them: Mark H., born April 3, 1873, and died July 28, 1874; George W., born June 11, 1875, and died March 13, 1877; Clifford, born May 2, 1878, and one who died at a very early age. Mr. Kesler owns a fine farm, comprising 120 acres. He has a commodious and substantial brick residence, a frame barn and other farm buildings, all in good repair, and is an enterprising and successful farmer. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, also of the K. of P. Mr. and Mrs. Kesler are members of the Presbyterian church.
Willaim Roades, a farmer of Elsah township, was born in Virginia, Sept. 17, 1811, and is a son of Henry and Mary (James) Roades. He resided with his parents until 22 years old, when he went to Kentucky, where he was married to Sarah E. Rolston, who died in 1843. By this union there were three children, two of whom died in infancy; one daughter, Elizabeth F., born in 1835, wife of C. D. Howard; she died Sept. 23, 1885. Mr. Roades was married to Elizabeth Swan, April 20, 1844, by whom he had six children, three of whom are now living: Martha J., born in 1845, now the wife of James N. Francis; William H., born in 1846, now married to Hannah A. Bougher, and Ann E., born in 1849, now the wife of George W. Smith; George L., born Aug. 30, 1854, died Sept. 7, 1855; Lucy V., born July 24, 1856, died Nov. 27, 1880; and Alice, born Oct. 11, 1858, died in 1865. Mrs. Roades died in Jan. 1876, and Mr. Roades was married the third time to Nettie B. Anderson. He had by this marriage three children: Charles C., born April 20, 1879; Alfred R., born March 5, 1881; and Rebba R., born Feb. 19, 1883, and died July 22, 1884. Mr. Roades has a finely improved farm, comprising 180 acres. His residence is of brick and is commodious and substantial. This place is located on sections 7 and 8, of Elsah township, is pleasantly situated and highly desirable. Mr. and Mrs. Roades are members of the M. E. Church. He is a supporter of the prohibition party.
Joseph Bradford Crawford, a farmer in Elsah township, was born in Sumner county, Tenn., on the 3rd of June, in the year of 1835. When he was three years old he went with his parents to Dallas county, Mo., where they lived until 1848, when they went to Farmington, St. Francis county, Mo. In 1851 he and his father went to California, and after staying six months there, he came back to the state of Tennessee, where he stayed with his grandmother Crawford about six months. He then went back to Farmington, Mo., for a short time, and from there he went to Crawford county, in the same state. In Oct. of 1853, he moved from there to Jersey county, Ill., locating in Elsah township. He was married to Lucinda M. Anderson, at Grafton, Ill., on the 11th of May, 1854, by Squire John Slaten. She was the daughter of John and Lucinda (Black) Anderson. They have had 12 children, seven of whom are living. These are John L., Syrintha A., Eliza J., Leonora, William W., Elizabeth and Charles H.
Jacob Rister resides upon section 10, Elsah township, where he owns a farm comprising 80 acres of the southwest quarter. He has 50 acres in cultivation, a good frame house and other comfortable improvements. Mr. Rister was born in Germany, April 13, 1826. In 1859, he emigrated to America, and landed at New Orleans, La., where he remained two months, then sent to St. Louis, and thence to Morgan county, Ill. From there he returned to St. Louis, remaining in that city three years, engaged in various occupations. He removed from St. Louis to Jersey county, which has since been his home. He was married during the year 1853, to Christine Vernon, who was born Jan. 5, 1827, and is a daughter of Daniel and Frederica Vernon. Mr. and Mrs. Rister have had seven children, among whom are William, born Nov. 8, 1856; Thomas, born May 12, 1861; Christina, born April 19, 1863; Mary, born Feb. 11, 1865; and Henry, born Dec. 11, 1867. Mr. Rister was in the army a few months, during the year 1865, enlisting in Co. B., of the 154th Ill. Inft. He was mustered out of the service at Camp Butler, Springfield, Ill. He is now a member of the G.A.R. post, No. 206, of Elsah.
Among the early schools of the township was one taught by Hannah Piggott about the year 1845, in a log cabin on section 16. She is at present a resident of the village of Elsah, and the widow of Joseph Lane.
School district No. 1 has a school house located near the center of section 2. It is a frame building, 20 x 40 feet in size, and was erected at a cost of about $700. John Busby taught the first term of school in this building. The first board of directors were: Joseph Chappel, George Spangle, and Agustus Bingham. The present directors of the district are: Barnard Kelley, J. Winger, and Alexander Chappee. Abel Stanhope teaches the school at present.
Abel H. Stanhope, son of Abraham and Caroline (Smith) Stanhope, was born in Mercer county, N.J., May 17, 1846. Abraham Stanhope was a native of the same state, born April 22, 1810, and died near Godfrey, Ill., in 1879. His wife, Caroline, was born in Devonshire, Eng., Aug. 9, 1816, and died Jan. 25, 1877. The subject of this sketch resided with his parents until 21 years of age, assisting his father upon the farm which was their home. On leaving home he hired out as a farm hand. In the year 1868 he was employed by C. C. Cumings, of Delhi, Ill., and in the fall of that year, on the day of Gen. Grant’s first election to the presidency, went to Godfrey, Madison county, which was then the residence of his parents, to cast his first vote for a president. On his return from that place to Delhi, he was accidentally thrown from the cars and his left arm was so badly crushed that amputation became necessary in order to save his life. He was taken, at the time of the accident, to the residence of M. V. Hamilton, of Delhi, where he remained eight weeks. He then went to his home in Godfrey and as soon as his health would permit began fitting himself for the profession of teaching, which he now follows. He was then barely able to read and write, and entered the grammar department of the model school, connected with the Normal University at Normal, Ill. He remained one year in that department, then entered the Normal, where he was a student two terms. Then, on account of a severe attack of lung fever, he was compelled to abandon his studies for a time. After recovering his health, he engaged in teaching school near Brighton, in Jersey county, where he continued one year, then returned to the Normal University and remained two years, since which he has followed teaching in Jersey and adjoining counties. Mr. Stanhope is thoroughly qualified, both by nature and education, for hsi responsible work and as a teacher is popular and successful.
The Locke school house, in district No. 4, was built in 1872, at a cost of $800. It is situated on the southwest quarter of section 11, and is 18 x 36 feet in size.
The building in district No. 5, also known as White Oak, was erected in 1877 at a cost of $500, which also included the lot of three-quarters of an acre upon which the building stands, the latter being 22 x 26 feet in size. The first term of school was taught by Albert Barwise, and the first board of directors were George Spangle, Christian Besterfeldt and George Piggott. Richard Keiley teaches the school at present and the present directors are William Knapp, R. M. Smith and George Piggott.
The school house located on the southeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 6, and known as Pleasant Grove, was built in 1875. It is 20 x 28 feet in size and was completed at a cost of $900. The first teacher was Walter Maxie. The first board of directors of the district were T. F. Slaten, Jasper Terry and A. F. Swan. Those serving as present directors are B. F. Slaten, Jasper Terry and George Spangle. Lizzie Leak is the present teacher. The school has an average attendance of about 28.
The first white child born in what is now Elsah township, was Thomas Edward Carroll, son of Edward and Mary (Wright) Carroll. This was also the second birth in the county, he being born on the 2nd day of Feb., 1820. His is now living in Macoupin county.
The first death was that of Thomas Carroll. He came up from St. Louis to stop with his brother, Edward. He had been there but a little over a month when his death occurred, in July or August, 1819. His body was taken down to St. Louis in a skiff, and there interred.
William Bates planted the first corn, in 1817, and also built the first house.
The first marriage was that of Josiah T. Askew an Miss Hannah Bates, in 1821.
Joseph Bassey was the first justice of the peace, who was elected or appointed in 1822.
The land on which is situated the town of Elsah, or Jersey Landing, was originally entered by James Mason, and occupies the northwest quarter of section 20. It afterwards came into the possession of William H. Allen, of Grafton, who disposed of it to James Semple, formerly United States senator and minister to Bogota. Mr. Semple subsequently laid out the town of Jersey Landing, which was surveyed March 7, 1853. He opened a road up Askew Hollow, so called from Josiah T. Askew, who had an extensive sugar camp in the hollow, about half a mile distant from the river. Shortly after the laying out of the town, a landing was established and called Jersey Landing. On the establishment of the post office, it was called Elsah, which name it still retains, though the town has popularly been known as Jersey Landing.
The town of Elsah is built mostly in a hollow and extends back in the neighborhood of a mile from the Mississippi river. The houses are most substantially built of brick or stone, and are of a better class than is usual in towns of its size. A magnificent view is offered from the bluffs adjoining, which are about 300 feet in height at his point. Just below the town is Notch Cliff, the palatial residence of Mrs. Ames, a daughter of the late Hon. James Semple, from which a most charming and extensive prospect of romantic scenery can be obtained. Before the construction of railroads, a large business was done at Elsah in the shipment of grain. It is said that for a period extending from 1853 to 1856, it was one of the largest shipping points for grain along the Mississippi. Messrs. Onetto & Brock acted as shippers. During the grain season, in the years noted above, the firm never received less than 500 bushels per day, principally corn, and from this amount ranged up to 3,000 bushels. The large trade in grain made the business of selling goods brisk during that period and it was not uncommon circumstance for the sales of Brock & Onetto to amount to $500 per day, a heavy business in those times.
J. M. Giberson engaged in the general merchandise business, in 1870, at which time he erected the present store room, which is 40 x 70 feet in size. The building is two stories high, the second story being occupied as a hotel by I. N. Piggott, which contains 14 sleeping apartments.
James M. Giberson, one of the leading merchants of Elsah, is a son of Jacob C. and Mary (Burleigh) Giberson, and one of a family of seven children, six of whom are now living. James M. Giberson was born seven miles south of Jerseyville, Ill., Jan. 30, 1848, and resided with his parents in that vicinity until 1865. At that time he left home to attend Bryant & Stratton’s Commercial College, from which institution he graduated Dec. 19 of the same year. The following summer he engaged as bookkeeper for E. Briggs, at East Newbern, near his old home. He continued in Mr. Briggs’ employ four months, then engaged in farming in Macoupin county. In July he disposed of his crop and went to trading in horses and land, working occasionally at carpentering. In July, 1868, he engaged in threshing in Macoupin county. The following winter he attended school in St. Louis, and in the spring of 1869 went to Audrain county, Mo., where he followed farming one season, returning in the fall to Jersey county and again engaged in threshing. Soon after he sold his outfit and embarked in mercantile trade, in company with W. W. Gilham, at East Newbern. In March, 1870, he moved his stock of goods to Louisiana, Mo., where the following May he closed out his goods and engaged in farming in Audrain county. He returned to Jersey county in July, 1871, having disposed of his interests in Missouri, an purchased a portion of the old homestead on Round Prairie, where he resided till March, 1873. At that date he moved to Elsah and engaged in merchandising. In Dec., 1874, he shipped his stock of goods to Aberdeen, Miss., and spent 1875 and a part of 1876 in that state. He engaged while there in farming, milling, ginning cotton, merchandising and trading. November 8, 1876, he returned to Elsah, Jersey Co., and in partnership with his brother, E. C. Giberson, engaged in mercantile trade. In the spring of 1877 another brother, J. J. Giberson, was admitted to the firm. In August 1878, James M. Giberson purchased his partners’ interests and has since that time carried on business alone. He has an extensive trade and is highly prosperous. He is the owner of the store building which he occupies, four dwelling houses, a stock farm located one-half mile from Elsah, and real estate in Kansas. Sept. 4, 1870, Mr. Giberson was married to Irene Collins, a native of Keokuk, Iowa. They have two children: Herbert G. and James A., the former born at East Newbern, April 29, 1872, and the latter at Elsah, March 3, 1882. Mr. Giberson is a member of the I.O.O.F.
The general merchandise store of A. H. Stephany was established in 1870, who purchased the building of Richard Fuller, at that time. Mr. Stephany carries a complete stock of general merchandise and groceries, and is doing a good business.
A. H. Stephany is a son of Martin Stephany, a native of Germany, who was born June 24, 1824. Martin was the third of a family of five children, and in his youth learned the tailor’s trade. He then went to Switzerland, where he remained until 1849. In that year he immigrated to America, and proceeded immediately to the city of St. Louis, where he arrived Mary 11th of that year. On the 28th day of the same month he was married to Elizabeth Steinman, a native of Switzerland. Five children were born to them, three of whom are now living. They continued to reside in St. Louis until October, 1855, at which time they removed to Elsah, then known as Jersey Landing. Here, in 1860, he engaged in mercantile business, which he carried on successfully until the time of his death, July 12, 1879. The subject of this sketch, A. H. Stephany was born in St. Louis, Oct. 23, 1852. He came with his parents to Elsah, where he has since resided, being here reared to a mercantile life. He is unmarried, and now resides with his widowed mother. He is successful in business, and a prominent and honored citizen. He is a member of the Masonic lodge of Grafton, the I.O.O.F., and the K. of P., of Elsah. He has held the office of village clerk four years and collector two years, and is a consistent Lutheran.
The building now occupied by B. L. Mott as a drug and variety store, was purchased by him in 1862, of James Semple. It is a one story stone affair, 20 x 30 feet in size, with basement, and was erected in 1856 by James G. Swan.
Mrs. C. Haas is engaged in the sale of groceries and provisions, in a building which she rents of her daughter Effie. She commenced business in 1862.
The grocery an provision business is also represented at Elsah by L. H. Vanderslice.
J. O. Richie is the proprietor of the only meat market in the place at present.
John G. Brown operates a wagon and blacksmith shop combined, which he rebuilt in 1884. It was formerly owned and used by D. T. Tonkinson as a blacksmith ship. The business is valued at present at $600.
John G. Brown, blacksmith, of Elsah, is the seventh of a family of nine children. At the age of 17 years he left home and went to work for himself at blacksmithing, having previously served an apprenticeship of three years with Theodore Burnett, in Girard, Macoupin county, Ill. He first opened a ship in Raymond, Montgomery county, Ill., where he continued one year; then went to Ohio and worked one year in a shoeing shop at Middletown; thence to Dayton, O.; and, about one year later to Missouri, where he was employed for six months in building trestle work on a railroad. He then went to Louisiana, in the same state, and there followed horse shoeing a few months, after which he returned to Illinois, and worked at his trade in Greene Co., where he carried on a general repairing establishment. During his residence there he was married to Vina Pennell, Nov. 20, 1877. He removed to Elsah, Jersey county. He is a skilled workman at his trade. In addition to blacksmithing he runs a general repairing establishment for wagons, buggies, etc. He is also an experienced veterinary surgeon, and practices that profession in connection with his other business. Mr. and Mrs. Brown have had three children born to them: Nellie, Emma and Amanda.
There are two cooper shops in the village of Elsah, owned and operated respectively by X. Schneider and Louis Keller.
Michael Huss is engaged in making boots and shoes, and also the repairing of the same. He also keeps stock for retail purposes.
McNair Bros., established their present business in the spring of 1884. They have a machine shop for repairing of all kinds, and have also a feed mill in connection. The machinery is operated by a ten-horse power engine. Their building is 22 x 30 feet in size, with a wing 16 x 32.
J. B. Reintges, wheelright, erected his present building, and commenced business in 1878. He does all kinds of woodwork, carriage and wagon making and repairing, and is also engaged in the sale of farm machinery. His business structure is 20 x 34 feet in ground area, and is three stories in height.
John B. Reintges, the first white child born in the village of Elsah, is the son of Peter Reintges, who came to Elsah township in 1852. Peter Reintges was born in Dollendorf, Germany, Jan. 13, 1813. He was a stone mason by trade. In 1852 he immigrated to America, and went first to Wisconsin, where he remained a short time, then to Elsah, as before stated. He died there in 1863. His widow, Mrs. Eva M. Reintges, was married, in 1864, to Christian A. Loehr, a prominent citizen of Elsah. Mr. and Mrs. Peter Reintges had six children born to them, three of whom are now living: John B., Louisa A. E. and Jacob. Theresa, wife of D. J. Murphy, is deceased and two died in infancy [Theresa d. 1920, Jersey Co. Burial Index]. John B. Reintges, the subject of this sketch, was reared and educated in his native township, and in his youth learned the trade of wheelwright, which he still follows. He was married Nov. 19, 1878, to Annie O’Hare. They have two children, Lizzeta and Eva. Mr. Reintges is a public-spirited citizen. He has held the office of constable four years, and is at present serving as assessor of Elsah township. He is a member of the Catholic church. He was, in honor of having been the first white child born in Elsah, presented by Hon. James Semple with a lot 50 x 75 feet, located in the village of Elsah.
Christian A. Loehr, mentioned above, was born in Hanover, Germany, April 14, 1832, and came to Jersey county in 1857. He was first married to Christine Schrier, in September 1861. She died in January 1864. Three children were born to them, one of whom is now living, Lizzeta. Mr. Loehr has been engaged in mercantile trade, but is now retired. He has been a member of the village board three terms, and is at the present time school director. He is a member of the Lutheran church and his wife of the Catholic church.
The tonsorial business is represented by Louis Bapst, who is located here, and established his shop, in 1885.
There are two saloons in the village, operated respectively by Cosmos Keller and William H. McDowell.
The first building on the present site of the Riverside hotel was a log cabin built by Addison Greene in 1847. It was afterward remodeled and a frame addition erected, and about the year 1853 purchased by Brock and Onetto. In 1866, Cosmos Keller, Sr., purchased the building, adding a frame structure, two stories high. At the time of his death, April 9, 1880, the property passed into the hands of his children, Cosmos and Emma, who still operate it as a hotel.
Cosmos Keller, proprietor of a hotel and saloon at Elsah, was born near Elsah, Jersey county, Ill., Sept. 27, 1859. He is a son of Cosmos, Sr., and Dorothea Keller. Cosmos Keller, Sr. was born March 11, 1832, in Alsace, then a province of France, and resided in his native country until 1856, when he came to America, and located, in March 1857, at Elsah, Jersey county, Ill. In 1856 he was married to Dorothea Behrens, who died Jan. 12, 1877. In July of the same year, he was married to Mrs. Bertha Feurherd. He has had three children, two of whom are living: Cosmos and Emma, the latter, born in 1863. The family are believers in the Roman Catholic religion. Cosmos, Jr. is at present township collector, which office he has held for five successive years. He has also held the office of village clerk, one term. He is a member of the I.O.O.F. lodge, No. 269, of Elsah, in which he holds the office of P. G. He belongs, also, to the K. P. lodge, No. 106, of Elsah. In the latter organization he has served three terms as secretary.
A hotel is also run by Isaac N. Piggott, which is first class in all its appointments. Neatness and cleanliness are the mottoes of the house, and a fair patronage is the result. The building is a large, two story frame structure, with a store in the first floor.
Still House and Grist Mill
In the spring of 1856, Knapp, Goodrich & Co., of Jerseyville, built a large stone building, 40 x 200 feet in ground area and three and a half stories high, which they operated as a distillery and a flouring mill. It was equipped with the necessary machinery and had five run of buhrs, the distilling department having a capacity of 1,200 bushels per day. The mill and distillery was in operation until May 5, 1870, when the institution was destroyed by fire. The walls are still standing and at present are the property of the W., St. L. & P. railroad company. It was erected at a cost of $65,000, and from the date of its completion the town began to improve and expand.
On of the leading industries of the town of Elsah, and of this whole section of the country, is the fishery of Isaac Houpt. This gentlemen commence the business as early as 1866, in a comparatively small way, and has developed it to an extraordinary dimension. He has some sixty or seventy nets, and two large seines and five fishing boats, which he uses in the business, and finds employment for quite a number of hands. All kinds of edible fish, among which are white, black and calico bass, pike, pickerel, catfish, perch, buffalo and red-horse, are gathered from the bosom of the mighty “father of waters” and prepared for the market. Tons of the finny tribe are gathered in and forwarded to St. Louis and other points, and disposed of to the benefit and profit of the enterprising proprietor of this industry, who is the largest and most successful fishery operator in this county, or, in fact in all this region. He is able, honest, and industrious, and deserves the good fortune brought about by his ability and enterprise.
Other Prominent Citizens
James E. Starr was born in New York, Sept. 21, 1813. When about 16 years of age he was taken by a maternal uncle to Georgia, as an assistant in a store. He remained with him until Sept. 1833, when learning of the death of his father at Alton, Ill., he returned home, reaching Alton in November of that year. Here he pursued his avocation as clerk and merchant for several years. In 1843 and 1844 he was employed as clerk on the river in the Alton and St. Louis trade, leaving it to take the position of United States deputy marshal. In 1845 he took command of a steamer, and finally quit the river in 1847. In Oct. 1846, he was married to Sabra B. Ellis, at Burlington, Iowa. On the opening of the Alton and Sangamon railroad (now Chicago and Alton) he was appointed general ticket agent of the road, which position he held for several years. On the breaking out of the war he was residing in Alton with his family, but in the spring of 1862 he moved to Jersey county, where he has since resided. The farm is located on Secs. 21 and 22, T. 6N, R. 11W, and has been largely devoted to horticulture. Mr. Starr was one of the founders of the State Horticultural Society, of which he was at one time president. He was one of the first admitted to membership in the I.O.O.F., Aug. 11, 1836, and has filled the positions of treasurer, secretary, grand master, and grand representative.
Rev. Luther E. Cole, of Elsah, was born in Halliston, Massachusetts, Oct. 9, 1847. In 1855 he came to the state of Illinois, where he grew to manhood, fitting himself for a ministerial career. He was licensed to preach May 19, 1881, by the Alton District Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which met at Brighton, Ill., Aug. 31, of the same year, he joined the Southern Illinois Conference, held at Greenville, Bond county, Bishop J. F. Hurst officiating, and was appointed to the Elsah circuit. He was ordained and ordered deacon by Bishop Thomas Bowman, of Bellville, Ill., Sept. 24, 1883. At the session of conference held at Fairfield, Ill., Sept. 24, 1884, he was returned to the Elsah circuit. At that session the circuits of Elsah, Grafton and all of the territory in Jersey county lying south of a line from Delhi to Fulton, were united, forming one circuit, of which he was appointed pastor in charge, and which field he at present occupies. Rev. Luther Cole is a man of much zeal and ability and is an earnest and faithful worker in the cause of the Master.
R. C. Chidister, son of William and Amanda (Willbanks) Chidister, was born in Elsah township, Jersey county, June 29, 1858. William Chidister was born in Licking county, O., Oct. 14, 1818, and died in this county, Feb. 14, 1881. Amanda Chidister was born in Kentucky in Aug. 1843, and died here, Feb. 12, 1883. Both are buried in the Salem cemetery. The subject of this sketch is the second of a family of six children, and resided with his parents until 24 years of age. He ten engaged in farming for himself in Elsah township, where he still lives. He is a republican in politics.
Abraham Worthey, retired farmer, was born in Franklin county, Ga., Nov. 11, 1818. When about three years of age he left that state, removing with his parents to Smith county, Tenn., where he remained until he was 19 years old. Oct. 20, 1839, he was united in marriage with Sarah Craig, daughter of James and Susanna (Burchett) Craig. Mr. and Mrs. Worthey have had 17 children born to them: Mary Ann, wife of Charles Harland, of Mississippi township; William H., living in Alton, Ill.; John W., married to Lucy Finch, living in Missouri; Sarah, widow of John Connor; Susanna, wife of Aaron Reed, of Elsah township; Martha, wife of George Miers, of Macoupin county, Ill.; Elizabeth, wife of John Reed, also of Macoupin county; Addie, who resides with her sister, Mrs. Miers; Abraham, Jr., living on section 6, Elsah township, married to Mary Dougherty; Julia, wife of William Johnson; Eva, wife of Wesley Johnson; Eva, wife of Wesley Johnson of Elsah township; James M., Eliza Ann, Thomas B., and Jasper N. are deceased, and three died in infancy. Mr. Worthey owns a valuable farm of 120 acres, located on section 6, Elsah township, which is well improved, also residence property in the village of Elsah, where he now lives. Mr. and Mrs. Worthey are members of the Presbyterian church. He belongs to the Grafton lodge of the Masonic fraternity, and to the I.O.O.F. lodge No. 369, of Elsah.
Isaac Newton Piggott, was born in “Piggott’s Fort” in Monroe county, Ill., in Nov. 1793. His father, Capt. James Piggott, was a native of the state of Connectidut, and in early life was a sea-faring man. He is reputed to have been one of the party who blew up a British gunboat just preceding the Revolution. The British Crown offered 500 guineas reward for each of the parties concerned, but failed to capture them. He next appears with a commission, as captain of a Pennsylvania company of troops, early in the war. He was at Valley Forge, during that memorable winter, when Gen. George Rogers Clarke was fitting out his western expedition to subdue the great Northwestern territory. Capt. Piggott tendered his resignation in the Continental army, giving as reasons therefor, “that his family had then (1778) already gone west, to Fort Duquesne, now Pittsburgh, Penn.; that he wished to join Clark’s expedition, and go to the Northwest territory.” In accepting his resignation, Gen. Washington received the same for the reasons therein stated. Capt. Piggott came west with Clark’s expedition and shared in the perils and privations incident thereto. He remained for some years at Kaskaskia, where his family soon joined him. He next built a fort or block-house, in the American Bottom, in Monroe county, which was known as Piggott’s Fort, as a protection for the early settlers against the hostile Indians. He established the first ferry at St. Louis, which is now known as Wiggins ferry. He moved to what is now a part of East St. Louis, Ill., at his ferry, where he died in Dec. 1799. At the time of his decease, he was presiding judge of the court of St. Clair county, Ill., then held at Cahokia, then the county seat of that county. Isaac N. Piggott was left an orphan, at seven years of age. In 1803 his mother re-married and moved across the river, to the territory of Upper Louisiana, an settled in St. Louis county, where Isaac N. was principally brought up, on a farm. His opportunity for education was very limited. We find him in the war of 1812, for which service, his widow drew a pension until her decease in 1881. In 1821, we find him a Methodist minister, stationed at the First M. E. church, in St. Louis. At the western conference of the M. E. church, held in Oct. 1822 at St. Louis, he was sent to the Mississippi circuit, comprising Pike, Adams, Schuyler, Brown, Scott, Greene, and part of Morgan counties, Ill. In Dec. 1822 he moved with his family to Greene county, and settled near Woodville, northwest of Kane, from whence he went around on a four week’s circuit on horseback, going northwest as far as Quincy. The settlements at that early day were sparse and far between, no bridges, very dim roads, but early settlers were proverbial for their hospitality to all, and especially to the early itinerant preacher. He virtually established Methodism in this district, being the first itinerant minister regularly sent to this part of the state. He was ordained a deacon by Bishop McKendree, at the St. Louis conference, and was afterwards ordained by Bishop R. R. Roberts, at Padfield, in St. Clair county, Ill., in 1824, as evidence by the parchments signed by the bishop, and now in the hands of one of his daughters, Mary J. Brock, of Jerseyville, Ill. About the year 1825, from failing health, Isaac N. Piggott located from the itinerancy, and sought other occupation. He remained a member of the M. E. church until his decease in 1874. He was the first postmaster in the limits of Jersey county, the office being at Eminence. He afterwards had the post office removed to Newbern, where he was again postmaster. He removed from Jersey county to St. Louis, Mo., in 1859 where he died Feb. 11, 1874, in his 81st year. He was a fine conversationalist, a fluent speaker, a versatile writer; and a man well posted on almost any subject. He could apparently turn his attention equally well to theology, medicine, or the law, being proficient in each.
Hiram T. Keyser was born in the state of Kentucky, on the 24th of December 1826. He lived with his parents until he was 20 years old. In 1852 he came to Illinois, stopping at Alton, where he stayed four years, working at his trade, which is that of brick and stone mason and plasterer. In the year 1856 he came to Elsah, and has lived there or in that vicinity up to the present time. On the 5th day of September 1855, he was married to Mary Ann Myers, daughter of Samuel Myers. They have had five children: John H., Charles H., Mary Elizabeth, Victor and Harry. Mr. Keyser has served as trustee of the village of Elsah for four years. He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church. In politics he is a democrat.
William G. Onetto, blacksmith and engineer, came to Jersey county in 1836, and for a time followed various occupations to gain a livelihood. In 1853 he moved to the village of Elsah, where he now resides, and which then contained but three houses. He was born April 8, 1825, and married in 1843, to Mary Ann Massey, daughter of William and Magdeline (Metz) Massey. She was born in St. Louis and died in 1870. They had two children, Elizabeth and Anthony, both of whom died in infancy. Mr. Onetto was again married to Mrs. Sinclair, widow of William Sinclair. He is a member of Masonic fraternity, the I.O.O.F., and the Knights of Pythias. He is a democrat politically, and with his wife, a member of the Methodist Episcopal church of Elsah. Mr. Onetto is one of the earliest settlers, of the village of Elsah, and a highly esteemed citizen.
Leander C. Carrico, a cooper in Elsah, was born on the 10th day of October, in the year 1848, near Kane, Greene county, Ill. He lived with his parents until he was nearly 16 years old, when he enlisted in Co. D. 1st. Reg., Missouri cavalry volunteers. He went into service on the 22nd of July 1864, and was mustered out at Benton Barracks, Mo., on the 18th of September, 1865. He participated in the following battles or skirmishes: At Mount Elba, Ark., and at Mt. Elba Ferry and Princeton, and the second assault at Pine Bluff and Brownsville. On the 3rd day of Feb. 1869, he was married to Annie Reynolds. One child was born to them, Ledora C., born on the 9th of Dec. 1869. She is living with her grandparents at Shipman, Ill. On the 1st of Aug. 1878, Mr. Carrico was married again to Mrs. Mary M. Davis, widow of Haston Davis. They have had two children: Mary E., born June 20, 1880, died Aug. 14, 1880; and Horace G., born Dec. 26, 1881. Mr. Carrico has been in 17 different states and territories, seeing a great deal of the country. He belongs to the Baptist church, is a member of Rutherford Post,No. 206, G.A.R., of which he is now commander, and has been officer of the day two terms previous to this. His parents were both natives of Illinois, but were of French and English descent. Her parents were of French descent. His father, Thomas C. Carrico, was born Dec. 21, 1825, in Greene county, Ill. He enlisted at Virden in Co. G., 122nd Ill. Inft., on the 13th of Aug. 1862. He died in the hospital at Corinth, Miss., on the 14th of March 1863, and was brought home to Virden, where he was buried. His mother is still living, and is now the wife of Daniel Bettis, and resides in this county.
The postoffice at Elsah was established in 1852, James Semple commissioned postmaster. The present incumbent is James Francis. Prior to this time, about the year 1830 a postoffice was established at a place called Eminence, two miles below Elsah. Newton Piggott was the postmaster.
Elsah was organized and incorporated as a village in 1872. The following were the first officers: William P. Warren, president; W. A. McNair, clerk; J. R. Whipple, Christ. Loehr, Isaac Newton Piggott, and Thomas Hansel, trustees. The present officers are the following: George F. Lane, president; W. B. Starr, clerk; T. F. Hansel, treasurer; James Fuller, street commissioner; William Tonkinson, constable; W. P. Warren, X. Schneider, J. G. Brown, R. B. Leak, and E. M. Pinney, trustees.
Elsah Public School
The present school building was erected in the year 1857 by the late Gen. James Semple, who was a great friend of education. The building is a large stone structure, two stories high, and is 24 x 36 feet. The cost at that time was $2,833. After the district was formed the building was purchased from Gen. Semple by the board of directors. The present teachers are Miss Minnie E. Lane, principal, and Miss Rosa V. Stroud, in the lower department. The school is considered to be in a flourishing condition, and with the present board of education will so continue.
Notch Cliff cornet band was organized in 1879 with the following members: Jacob Spatz, Eb clarinet; Jacob C. Reintges, solo cornet; Edward Reed, Bb; J. B. Reintges, first alto; J. Dean, second alto; William Besterfeldt, baritone; Edward Besterfeldt, Eb tuba; H. Howard, bass drum. The first president of the organization was William Besterfeldt.
A town hall for public meetings of all kinds was erected in 1884, and is now owned by Dr. B. F. Farley. It is a one-story frame structure, 30 x 50 feet in dimensions, and was completed at a cost of about $1,000.
Elsah Roller Mills
This flouring institution was constructed in 1878 by McAdams and Bleyler and is 40 x 80 feet in ground area, three stories and a half high, with an engine room 30 x 35 feet in size. The machinery and fixtures were removed from Newbern, the engine being 50 horse power. The above named firm ran the mill about one year, when it was purchased by Enos J. Doron, in Feb. 1879, who still owns and operates the same successfully. When the mill was first erected it was a buhr affair, but in the fall of 1882 it ws remodeled by Mr. Doron to the roller system. The mill has the capacity of 200 barrels of flour per day, and is so situated that its shipping advantages are unsurpassed either by rail or water. It is in good repair, and is valued at $30,000. The mill proper was originally erected for an elevator and warehouse in 1861, by a man named Pegram, of St. Louis, who was among the principal grain dealers of that city, at that time, and was provided with all the requirements of a first-class warehouse.
Enos T. Doron, the proprietor of the Elsha Roller Mills, Jersey county, Ill., was born near the city of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, Sept. 17, 1830. His early life was spent in his native state. In 1848 he engaged as clerk in a wholesale hosiery establishment in Philadelphia, and in 1858, became a partner in the same firm. He continued there in business until Jan. 1, 1871, when he retired from mercantile life. In 1879 he came to the village of Elsah and purchased the flouring mill, which in 1882 he remodeled, and added new machinery, increasing its capacity to 200 barrels per day. Mr. Doron was united in marriage Feb. 8, 1859, with Huldah H. Bedell, of Rochester, N.Y. They had two children: Charlie B., born Mary 28, 1860, and John B., born June 30, 1864. The latter died April 23, 1866. Mrs. Doron died in Germantown, Penn., May 20, 1873. Mr. Doron is a republican in politics, and an upright and worthy citizen, as well as an enterprising business man.
Elsah Lodge No. 269, I.O.O.F. was instituted in 1859. Among the charter members were John H. Onetto, Addison Greene and Jacob Lurton. The lodge has had a prosperous existence, and is well fixed financially. They own the building in which their hall is situated and rent a portion to the K. of P. and G.A.R. societies. The membership is about 40. Being the first lodge in the south end of the county, it has been a mother lodge, three other lodges having drawn membership from her.
Black Cross Lodge, No. 106, K. of P., was instituted June 13, 1882, with 17 charter members. The following were the first officers of the lodge: Thomas F. Hansel, P.C.; William H. Bleyler, C.C.; William G. Onetto, V.C.; Jacob Kesler, P.; X. Schneider, M. of E.; Nathaniel Greene, M. of F.; Fred. W. White, M. at A.; Tony A. Brock, K. of R. and S.; John N. Warren, I.G.; Jacob C. Reintges, O.G. Those serving the lodge at present in an official position are Nathaniel Greene, P.C.; Charles B. Doron, C.C.; Edward M. Pinney, V.C.; X. Schneider, P.; C. Loehr, M. of E.; A. H. Stephany, M. of F.; John N. Warren, M. at A.; Fred W. White, K. of R. and S.; Cosmos Keller, I.G.; William G. Onetto, O.G. The present membership numbers 22. The lodge, though small in number, has been active and interesting since its institution to all connected with it.
Rutherford Post, No. 206, G.A.R., was organized April 11, 1883 by John G. Mack. The first officers of the post were: E. M. Pinney, C.; B. F. Slaten, S.V.C.; Lewis Keller, J.V.C.; William H. McDow, Q.M.; William Marshaw, Chap.; L. C. Carico, O.D.; N. Hartley, O.G.; J.K.Francis, Adjt.; Adam Lightner, Q.S.; Myron Hansell, Surg. The membership at present numbers 62. The post rents the hall of the I.O.O.F. fraternity in which to hold their meetings. The present officers of the society are L. C. Carrico, C.; J. A. Chapee, S.V.C.; Lewis Keller, J.V.C.; E. M. Pinney, Q.M.; W. D. Collins, O.D.; J. A. Dabbs, O.G.; Perry Spangle, Chap.; P.W. Dougherty, Adjt.; I. M. Free, Surg.; T. A. Palmer, Q.S. The charter members of the organization were E. M. Pinney, Lewis Keller, A. F. Swan, Adam Lightner, W. D. Collins, Terry Spangle, B. F. Slaten, L. C. Carrico, W. H. McDow, William Burgess, William Deymond, Myron Hansel, P. W. Dougherty, J. K. Francis, William Marshaw, George Piggott, N. Hartley, William Gillham.
Notes from Oscar B. Hamilton, Ed., History of Jersey County Illinois, Chicago: Munsell Publishing Company, 1919. Notes from the text only, not an exact transcription. There will be typographical errors.
The first store in the county was was opened by Henry Mills in Elsah Township in 1829 or 1830 at the front of the bluff. The first ferry was also here. Before this store, people had to go to St. Louis. The town of Eminence (now gone) was later laid out on top of the bluff. In 1836 or 1837 there was a mill, store and about six dwellings at the now vanished town of Randolph.
A sugar camp had been at Elsah before it was plotted. General Semple, who plotted Elsah, invented the first steam traction engine for road travel. He drove it from Alton to Carlinville on a trip to Springfield, but bad roads mired it down and it had to be abandonded at Carlinville. General Semple (after 1853) made a road up Askew Hollow (later the town of Elsah) from the river to higher lands, extending it on to connections with Otterville, Newbern and Jerseyville. Thus most produce from Jersey and Greene counties were brought to Elsah for shipment. There was a large distillery, a grist-mill, and a paper mill soon after 1855 at Elsah, built by men from Jerseyville. Later Elsah declined due to a fire and the rise of the railroad, so by 1918 the population was only 150.