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From History of Greene and Jersey Counties, Illinois, Springfield, IL: Continental Historical Co., 1885, pp. 411 – 432. There will be typographical errors.
A tradition is extant, which cannot be tracked to an authentic source, to the effect that three brothers, Lewis, Barney and William Sherman settled in what is now Fidelity township and built a house on the southeast corner of section 25, where they lived for several years. The exact date of their settlement is not given, but it is usually placed about 1818 or 1819. They did not live here very long.
Thomas Chapman settled on section 33 about the year 1828, where he lived for some years.
James Simmons was the first permanent settler of the township. He came in the spring of 1830 from Knoxville, Tenn. His son Samuel had come out the year before to choose a location.
Samuel C. Simmons was born in Montgomery county, Md., March 16, 1807. He is the oldest son of James and Ann Simmons, natives of Maryland. His father was born in Montgomery county, of that state, April 23, 1773, and was married in Jan. 1806 to Ann, daughter of Charles Hodges (who is the grandfather of Judge Hodges of Carrollton, Ill.). They had seven children, named as follows: Samuel C., the subject of this sketch; Thomas H., deceased, who was a printer and worked in the Spectator office at Alton; Sarah E., deceased, former wife of James Cummings, also deceased; John H. H., residing three miles south of Fidelity; Ann M., wife of the late Rev. L. Eddings; Marygaret R., the last two residing in Indiana; and Richard J. deceased. Mr. James Simmons moved to Knoxville, Tenn. in the fall of 1816, where he resided until the spring of 1830, when he came to the present limits of Jersey county, and settled on Sec. 26, T8, R10, where he made the first permanent settlement in the township. He resided on the same farm until his death, which occurred July 13, 1861. His wife died in May 1827 near Knoxville, Tenn. The life of Mr. Simmons began under the reign of George III. He was personally acquainted with George Washington, and his first vote for president was cast for Washington and his last for Lincoln. He lived to see great improvements in Illinois and Jersey county, and to have the satisfaction of seeing his family comfortably settled in life, and among the useful citizens of a community in which he was one of the pioneers. He was esteemed by a large circle of friends, and the memory of his worth is still cherished in the community where over 30 years of his life were spent. Samuel C. Simmons came to Illinois in the fall of 1829 and selected for his father’s family the location which after a short time became their home. He was elected justice of the peace in Aug. 1831, the first in the township. He was married May 10, 1832 to Martha R., daughter of Rev. Jacob Miles, one of the early settlers of Macoupin county. They had by this union six children, in the following order of their births: James M., now a citizen of Colorado; Thomas H., now residing near Brighton, Ill., who took an active part in the late rebellion, was over four years in the service, and severely wounded in the battle of Shiloh, by a ball passing through his lungs, while acting as first lieutenant of the 14th Ill., and was also, while on Gen. Palmer’s staff, again wounded by a shell at the battle of Stone River; John R., residing at Miles, Ill.; Amelia A., wife of John W. Stanton, residing at Pierce City, Mo.; Martha E., wife of John H. Barber, residing at Pierce City, Mo.; Sarah C., wife of D. Q. Trotter, residing on the old homestead of James Simmons. Mrs. Simmons died in Feb. 1848. Mr. Simmons was again married to Loranda C. Miles, Sept. 10, 1848. They had five children: Araminta, wife of George Barber, residing near Brighton; Helen O., wife of Rev. S. H. Huber, died Aug. 13, 1883; Charles W., residing on the old homestead; Albert N., married to Etta Hoyt of Lebanon, April 23, 1884, and living at Elkhart, Logan county, Ill., where he is stationed as minister of the M.E. church. He graduated at McKendree College, Lebanon, in June 1882. He was valedictorian of the class. In 1885 the degree of master of arts was conferred on him; E. R., who is farming near the old homestead and residing with his brother. Mrs. Simmons died Aug. 10, 1861 [1864?]. Mr. Simmons has followed farming thus far through life. He participated in the Black Hawk war in 1831. Although he has not sought official position, he has been acting justice of the peace for 12 years. Mr. Simmons for over forty years has been an active member of the M.E. church. Both of his wives and most of his children were members of the same church. He took an active interest in the great struggle for the life of the nation. As a christian man and a good citizen he has the esteem of all who know him.
C. W. Simmons was born in Fidelity township, Jersey county, Ill., July 20, 1856. He is a son of Samuel C. Sommons. May 4, 1881, he was married to Annie, daughter of H. J. Hoffman of Jersey county. Mrs. Simmons died Oct. 13, 1881. Jan. 23, 1884 he was again married to Nettie A., daughter of the late Robert Stone, also of Jersey county. They have one child, Samuel Morris, born Dec. 8, 1884. Since his father’s retirement from farming, he has taken charge of the farm of 240 acres, 160 acres of which is in cultivation.
John H. Simmons, one of the pioneers of Jersey county, was born in Montgomery county, Md., June 20, 1814. He worked for his father until he attained his majority. Nov. 12, 1835 he was married to Mary A. F. Hargrave, daughter of Robert Hargrave, who settled here in 1830. Seven children were born to them, only one of whom is now living, James F., born Sept. 13, 1836. Mrs. Simmons died Jan. 11, 1877, in the 60th year of her age. She, as well as her husband, united with the M.E. church in 1834. Mr. Simmons was formerly a whig, and is now a staunch republican. He has been a member of the Patrons of Husbandry for the past 11 years, and has, part of the time, acted as chaplain of the grange.
Richard J. Simmons, the subject of this sketch, was born in Montgomery county, Md., March 30, 1808, being the second child of James and Ann Simmons. His mother’s maiden name was Ann Hodges, of Prince George’s county, Md. His father emigrated in the fall of 1816, stopping in the vicinity of Knoxville, Tenn., where he remained for 13 years, and in the spring of 1830 moved to what was then Greene, now Jersey county, Ill., and settled at the head of the Piasa, 10 miles east of where the city of Jerseyville now stands, there being but one double log cabin there at the time. The place was then called Hickory Grove. In the spring of 1832 he was married to Mariah Cummings, and settled on Sec. 34, T8, R10, where he resided for over half a century, his wife dying without children. He married again, his second being Margaret Davis; she, dying, left two sons, both of whom have since died. His third wife was Mrs. Lucy M. Wemple, his present widow. She bore him nine children. One died in infancy the others, six sons and two daughters, are all grown, and most of them married. Three sons live in Kansas and all the other children live in Illinois. Mr. Simmons was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church for half a century, and held the position of recording steward, in the charge where he lived, for a number of years. His house was at all times, open to the itinerancy, the latch-string always hanging out. The deeds of his life will speak louder than all the eulogies that can be written. He departed this life on Jan. 18, 1885, in the 77th year of his age. His son, R. S. Simmons now manages the farm.William Phillips was among the few settlers of this township to locate in 1831. He entered a portion of section 25 and proceeded to open a farm.
Jeremiah Tindall was another newcomer to the same locality in 1833.
Thomas H. Chapman came in the fall of 1830, settling on section 33, where he lived until his death in April 1870, at which time he met with a serious and tragic one. Meat was being smoked, and during the evening the smoke house caught on fire. Mr. Chapman entered the burning building and threw some water on the flames. His clothes immediately ignited, and before assistance could be rendered him, he was burned and suffocated, dying almost immediately. He was a native of Tennessee and was an old and much respected resident of the township.
Among the settlers of 1831 was James Cummings.
John Trible located on section 25 in 1834. He was born in Devonshire, England, and when he came to this county, was accompanied by his parents, a brother and three sisters. He lived on the place he first entered until his death, which occurred in 1859. He was married in 1842 to Mary Hobson. They had two children, Jane M. and Sophia E.
Jeremiah Bell located on the east half of section 34 in March 1832. Jeremiah Bell was born in Hancock county, Ga., May 16, 1808. He is the fourth child of Jesse and Frances Bell. Jesse Bell was a native of North Carolina. He, with his father, Nathaniel Bell, who was a veteran of the revolutionary war, emigrated shortly after the war and settled in Hancock county, Ga., where Nathaniel Bell remained until 1811, when he followed his son Jesse, who, with his family of four children, had settled in 1811 near the present site of Edwardsville, Ill. Jesse Bell took an active part in the last war with Great Britain. He was also one of the frontier guards known as “rangers.” He had a family of 16 children by his two marriages, eight by each wife. His second wife, Susan Meacham, was a native of Vermont. The subject of this sketch is the only child by the first wife now living, and three by his second wife are also living. Mr. Bell resided on the same farm where he first settled until his death, which occurred April 1, 1835, aged 57 years. His birth was Nov. 16, 1779. His first marriage Nov. 16, 1800, the day he was 21 years old. Jeremiah Bell, the subject of this sketch, received his early education in the common schools of Madison county, where he resided until his marriage to Mary Million, which took place Dec. 9, 1830. She was the daughter of Daniel and Barbara Million, who were natives of Virginia. They early settled in Kentucky, and in 1811 located in St. Clair county, Belleville, Ill., where they educated their family of nine children. Mr. Bell first settled where he now resides in March 1832. He has had a family of 11 children, five sons and six daughters. They are in the following order of birth: Robert M., Jesse W., Susan Frances, Emma Ellen, Mattie L.(?), William J., and Mary Adeline. Mr. Bell is among the prominent farmers and stock-growers of this county. He has taken an active part in introducing blooded cattle, hogs and horses, but in sheep he has introduced the fine Spanish Merina perhaps more extensively than any of his compeers. Mr. Bell had devoted nearly all of his active life to the physical and moral development of the community in which he lived. Few men are now living who have had a larger experience in pioneer life. He has lived to see Jersey county contain a larger population than the entire state did when he first became a citizen of the territory. Mr. Bell and family are active members of the M.E. church, as were his parents. Soon after his father, in company with others, had crossed the Ohio river, in the fall of 1811, he met a man on horseback, who asked Mr. Bell where he was going, and he replied that he was going to Goshen Settlement, Ill. The gentleman then told him that he had better turn back, for there were nearly 400 graves, that have never been wet by rain, and that there was nobody living but a few shouting Methodists. “Drive on,” said Mrs. Bell, “let me die with them.” She died in Aug. 1813. Nathaniel Bell, the grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was born in what is now the state of North Carolina, in Bates county, March 15, 1755. At the age of 19 years he enlisted as a soldier in the war of the Revolution, in which he served 14 months. Sometime near the close of that war, he made a profession of religion, under the preaching of Beverly Allen, the first Methodist preacher that visited the section of country in which he then lived, and became a member of the Methodist society. In 1783 he moved to the state of Georgia, where being separated from religious society, and particularly from the Methodist, the society of his choice, he grew lukewarm in religion and became shorn of his spiritual strength. About the year 1798 or 1799, he was again found by a Methodist pioneer names Samuel Cowles, who received him the second time into the society. In this society he remained a worthy and acceptable member until the year 1801-02, when he left the Methodist communion, and became a member of the Baptist church, under the pastoral care of Rev. Jesse Mercer. In 1818 he moved to the state of Illinois and settled in St. Clair county, where he again united with the Baptist church, in which church he remained until he was called from suffering and toil to happiness and rest. He died near Edwardsville, in Madison county, Ill., Jan. 17, 1835, in his 80th year. For the last 40 years of his life Father Bell was the subject of much suffering. Jesse Bell, the father of Jeremiah, died at his residence in Madison county, on Lord’s day morning, March 29, 1835. He was a pious and exemplary member of the Methodist society, and was much esteemed by all who knew him.
Henry J. Hoffman came to Jersey county with his parents in 1834. They came from Pennsylvania.
Other Prominent People
Peter R. Parsell, who is among the representative men of this community, was born in Somerset county, N.J., on Christmas day 1825. He lived with his father until after he became of age, when he bought a farm for himself in New Jersey, He was there married, on Feb. 17, 1847 to Eliza M. Smalley, who was born in the same county, July 30, 1828. From that state he emigrated to Illinois in 1864, locating at Jerseyville, where he remained for two years. While there he lived on a small farm, which he rented of C. B. Fisher, as it was impossible to purchase any land, there being none for sale during war times. Later on, he bought a half section of land on section 30, and half of this he sold to a friend from New Jersey. But after a few years this man broke up, and his farm went into the hands of the sheriff, and was sold to Isaac Snedeker, from whom it was again purchased by Mr. Parsell in 1877, and he located his son Isaac on it. During this time he bought the southeast quarter of the section, and then in 1879, the southwest quarter, this giving him the whole section. A short time ago he bought 80 acres on section 23, and he now owns 720 acres of the best land in the state. It is now, by his skillful management and industry, one of the most beautiful farms in the country, although when he first settled on it, it was nothing but wild prairie, and as discouraging a place as was to be seen in the country. He devotes his time to the raising of stock, of which he makes a great success, they consisting principally of short-horn cattle, fine roadster horses, and sheep. He has never found it necessary to have a sale of stock, as the demand is greater than the supply, all the dealers knowing that here they will find only the best. He has frequently sold a span of horses for from $500 to $800. The farm is now stocked with 80 head of fine cattle, and 87 head of horse, mules and colts. He understands taking care of the ground, and by the judicious changing around of the different grains, does not destroy the fertile qualities of the soil, so that within five years after he settled there, he had it in good condition. He has a family of nine children, six boys and three girls, all living. He has given them all a good common school education, and has done all in his power to instill into their minds the principles of honesty and uprightness, so as to make true men and women of themselves. They are all very much devoted to music, and hence have spent many pleasant hours together in that way, being joined by their father, who is also musically inclined. They have been taught to be independent, and to earn their own fortunes as he himself has done, and they are succeeding in so doing, some of them by adopting the ideas of their father in regard to stock-raising, thinking it the most profitable way to success. The dates of their births are as follows: Margaret, widow of the late Thomas M. Herdman, born May 3, 1848, and now living in Kansas, where she controls the estate of her deceased husband; Sarah, wife of T. H. Spencer, also living in Kansas, born Jan. 17, 1850; Isaac, who is married and living in Jersey county, born Jan. 27, 1852; Jeremiah, unmarried, and living in Kansas, where he has become wealthy, born Aug. 6, 1854; James, married, and living at home, born April 30, 1856; Sophia, born Sept. 13, 1859; Peter R., born March 17, 1861; John R., born Sept. 15, 1864; and Oliver P., born July 17, 1866. The last four are unmarried, and still remain with their parents. Our subject has been the architect of his own fortune, beginning at a salary of $10 per month, with no education save what could be gleaned from the perusal of newspapers. He learned to write by attending night school. He and his wife are members of the Second Presbyterian church at Jerseyville. In politics he is a democrat.
John W. Trotter was born in Monmouth county, New Jersey, Sept. 15, 1812. He moved from that state to Butler county, Ohio, when about six years old, where he lived until the fall of 1834, when he went to Mississippi. He remained there three years, working at his trade, blacksmithing, when he moved to the state of Michigan, where he was married June 25, 1837 to Sarah Crane. She was born in Butler county, Ohio, Jan. 4, 1818. He now moved to Ohio, remaining there until 1844, when he moved back to Cass county, Mich., and engaged in farming. In 1856 he moved to Jersey county, Ill., and bought a farm on section 26 in Fidelity township. He lived there until 1883, when he moved to Piasa, Macoupin county, Ill., where he now resides. Himself and wife are hale and hearty, though both are quite old, he being 73 years of age and his wife 67. They have had three children, two boy and one girl. They are: Squire B., living on a farm near Piasa, Macoupin county; Mary Jane, who married Charles Brown of Godfrey, Ill., and now are living in Barton county, Mo.; and D. Q.
D. Q. Trotter was born in Middletown, Butler county, Ohio, Sept. 14, 1842. His parents moved to Michigan when he was only two years old, where he lived until he was 13, when they came to this place. The only education he has received was in the common schools. He remained on the farm which his father bought, and they have added to it land enough to make a farm of 360 acres, which is well improved. Part of his land is taken up with wheat and corn, but he also pay strict attention to stock-raising, principally of short-horn cattle and Poland China hogs. He was married Oct. 27, 1868 to Caroline Simmons, a native of Jersey county, Ill., [born?] March 20, 1844. They have four children, two boys and two girls. They are: Charles Woolsey, born Jan. 19, 1869; Martha A., born March 4, 1873; Mary B., born April 9, 1879; and Thomas Quinn, born Sept. 5, 1881. He is a member of Fidelity lodge No. 152 A. F. & A. M., and a member of the local grange, and is assistant steward in the state grange, now serving his second term. He is also president of Patron’s Aid Society, a life insurance association connected with the grange. He is now township treasurer, having been elected to fill the office for a second term. He has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church since 1859. He belongs to various temperance societies, and does all in his power to promote temperance, casting his vote in that direction, whenever an opportunity offers, although he is a democrat.
Edward Trabue was born in Logan county, Ky. on March 1, 1825. His mother died when he was quite small. His father, Aaron Trabue, moved to this state in 1837, locating at Upper Alton for six years. He then moved to Montgomery county, Ill., living there three years, and then came to Jersey county, where he bought land. He died Dec. 29, 1877, at the age of 84 years, 11 months and 16 days. He was a Baptist minister, and was a soldier in the war of 1812. Edward was married to Elizabeth Nile, July 10, 1849, and to them a family of six children were born, four of whom are now living: Emma, born Aug. 5, 1850, married Jan. 10, 1877 to John E. Andrews; Murray B., born June 16, 1853, married Oct. 18, 1883 to Rosa Owens of Madison county; Lawrence, born Feb. 3, 1855, died April 23, 1866; Phebe N., born Feb. 12, 1857, died Feb. 8, 1858; Phebe, born July 14, 1860, married Nov. 14, 1883 to A. O. Barnett; and Elizabeth, born July 30, 1862. His wife died Dec. 4, 1867, and on Dec. 15, 1868 he was again married to Mary A. Cummings, born in Jersey county, Ill., Sept. 10, 1828. He bought 160 acres of land previous to his first marriage, on which there is a good frame house and out-buildings, all of which have been placed there by him. He turned the first sod that was thrown up on that land, and now has it all in good condition. He belongs to the Masonic lodge No. 394 of Jerseyville. He has been president and vice-president of the Agricultural Association of Jersey county. His political views are with the republicans.
Murray B. Trabue was born in Fidelity township, Jersey county, June 16, 1853. He is a son of Edward and Elizabeth (Nile) Trabue. He lived at home with his parents until the date of his marriage, Oct. 1, 1883, with Rosette Owens, daughter of Josiah P. and Sarah L. (Jones) Owens, of Madison county. He received a good education, attending the district school of his native township. He subsequently spent two years at Shurtleff College, Upper Alton, Ill. He is engaged in farming and dealing in stock. He has 80 acres of land in Jersey county, and 80 acres in Madison county, all of which is well improved, and under cultivation. Mr. Trabue was a member of the Alpha Grange, of which he acted as treasurer one year. He is a stockholder, and one of the directors of the Fair Association of Jersey county, and is a shrewd, energetic business man, and an enterprising and popular citizen.
Isaac McCollister was born in Lewis county, N.Y. on April 24, 1817. He was the youngest of a family of seven children, having five brothers and one sister. His parents moved to Buffalo, and in the spring of 1819, started for the west by the way of Pittsburg, coming down the Ohio, and up the Mississippi river on a keel-boat. The boat was carried up the river by sail, when the wind was right, and when not, by poling, and by men walking along the shore pulling it with ropes attached to it. There was at that time but one steam-boat on the river. It passed them, but then they passed it and finally saw it no more. They landed at the mouth of Wood river in Madison county, at a small town called Milton, in the latter part of July 1819. There the family were all taken sick with fever, and his father and three brothers died, all between Sept. 10 and Oct. 20. His mother moved from there to Upper Alton, and in the fall of 1820 she moved to Apple Creek Prairie, Greene county, west of where White Hall now is, where she died in Sept. 1840, leaving three sons: W. E., L. S., and Isaac, and one daughter, Mary, now Mrs. Floyd. William died in Sept. 1853, near White Hall; L. S. lives in Kansas, as does also Mrs. Floyd. At that time they had to go to Upper Alton to have their grain ground. The first mills used were horse or ox mills, and they put in a bolting reel, which had to be turned by hand. Some had a round hollow, burnt in a stump, with a spring-pole, to grind the corn, similar to the working of a mortar and pestle. Wheat was cut with a hand sickle, threshed by tramping out on the ground with horses or oxen, and cleaned by letting it fall so that the wind would blow the chaff out. Hence they did not have very white flour in those days. W. E. McCollister bought the first fanning mill that was brought into that settlement, and it went all around the whole neighborhood to clean the wheat after it was stamped out. They used wooden mould board plows, wooden pitchforks and strap shovels. Corn was plowed with oxen, and the ox carts had no iron tires. Isaac was married to Sylvia North, March 10, 1846, and went on his farm in the northeast quarter of Sec. 15, T9, R10, in the northeast corner of Jersey county. He resided there until the spring of 1857(?), when he moved to the farm on which he now resides, in the northeast quarter of Sec. 13, T8, R10, where he owns 280 acres of land, and has 160 acres in T8, R11. He has five children living, two boys and three girls, one being now Mrs. J. D. Wilson. He has buried eight children, all small. His wife died on March 6, 1880. She was born on Apple Creek Prairie, Dec. 6, 1826.
Lucius G. Wilkerson, son of James H. and Sarah A. Wilkerson, was born in Warren county, O., April 28, 1845. His ancestral descent is Welsh. In 1866 he went to Andrew county, Mo., where for several years he engaged in merchandising. In the fall of 1876 he sold out, and came to Jersey county, Ill. On Dec. 18, 1873 he was married to Sophia E. Trible, daughter of John and Mary Trible, natives of Devonshire, Eng. She was born July 30, 1847, on the farm on which they now reside.
James Walsh has been a resident of Jersey county since 1859, having come here in May of that year. He is a native of county Kilkenny, Ireland, where he was born in March 1842. About the year 1849 he parents came to America and located in New York city, where he finished his education, and learned the plumber’s trade with Alexander W. Hunt & Co., of 23rd street and Third avenue. In 1856 Mr. Walsh, Sr., removed to Jersey county, Ill., and settled in what is now Mississippi township, where he died in Sept. 1872. He was buried in the Catholic cemetery at Jerseyville. James Walsh followed his trade in New York city for six years, then in May 1859 came to Jersey county to join his father. Since that time he has followed farming. He now owns 95 acres of land on section 33, Fidelity township, where he resides. He has all of his land in cultivation and is engaged in raising grain and stock. Mr. Walsh was married Feb. 28, 1868 to Bridget Farrell, daughter of James and Ellen (Gowman) Farrell, and a sister of Father Edward Farrell, of Jones county, Ia. Mr. and Mrs. Walsh are the parents of eight children, three of whom are living: John, born Feb. 1, 1869; Catherine, born June 16, 1874; and Mary, born July 31, 1875. Those deceased are James, Catherine, and three who died in infancy. Mr. Walsh holds the office of school director, and is a member of the Catholic Benevolent Society. Both Mr. and Mrs. Walsh are zealous and active members of the Jerseyville Catholic church.
Charles W. Johnson, a prosperous farmer of Fidelity township, was born in Philadelphia, Penn. in 1828. He resided with his parents until he attained his majority, then came to Illinois, locating in Jersey county on section 32 of Fidelity township, where he has since resided. He now owns 200 acres of land, and devotes his time to grain and stock-raising. Mr. Johnson was married Dec. 4, 1851 to Emma Hansel, daughter of William and Ann Hansel. They have had eight children, four of whom are living: Margaretta, Albert, Jane and Emma. Those deceased are: Margaretta Morris, born Aug. 22, 1853 and died May 19, 1856; Susan Fallon, born April 20, 1856 and died June 1, 1878; and Jennie, born Oct. 2, 1858 and died Sept. 7, 1880.
James Moore of Fidelity township came with his parents to Jersey county, Ill. in 1828. He is a native of Knox county, Tenn., born Dec. 11, 1826. He was married to Jane N., and daughter of John and Jane N. (Luckey) Davis. They are parents of five living children. He is now a prosperous farmer, although he started out a poor boy.
Edward C. Dashwood was born in Colchester, county Essex, Eng., Jan. 10, 1831, a son of Edward and Maria (Knights) Dashwood. He remained with his parents until 14 years old. He then went to sea on a two years voyage, bound for Bombay and China, on board a government vessel used for the transportation of troops from Bombay to Aden. He continued following the sea-faring life for 25 years, and during one voyage was in a storm off Cape Horn for 18 days. He came to the United States in 1870, first stopping at Alton, from where he came soon after to Jersey county. Here he worked one year for different parties, then purchased land on section 21, Fidelity township, where he now resides. He owns 80 acres of land, and is engaged in general farming. Mr. Dashwood was married May 29, 1872 to Annie Pike, a native of Devonshire, Eng., daughter of John and Johanna Pike. Mr. Dashwood is a member of the Episcopal church.
James Sayer is a native of Devonshire, Eng., born in 1855. He came to America in Aug. 1870, stopping first in St. Louis, where he remained nine months. He then came to this county and for five years worked out at farming. At the end of that time he purchased 40 acres of land on section 21, Fidellity township, which has since been his home. He follows general farming, raising grain and stock. Dec. 14, 1875 Mr. Sayer was united in marriage with Mary Louisa Stone, daughter of A. F. and Sarah Stone. By this union there are four children: Nettie, Franklin, Emma and James. Mr. Sayer is now serving as director of the Fremont school, and is a respected and useful citizen.
William Quirk, son of John and Henrietta (Kelly) Quirk, was born in Jersey county, Ill., April 3, 1859. He grew to manhood in this county, obtaining his education in the district schools. He resided with his parents until Feb. 15, 1882, when he was united in marriage with Alice Elizabeth Phelan, daughter of Dennis and Mary (Grace) Phelan. He then removed to a farm owned by his father, containing 120 acres, located on section 10 of Fidelity township, where he now lives. He follows general farming. Mr. and Mrs. Quirk have two children, Henrietta and John Dennis. Mr. Quirk is a member of the Roman Catholic church.
A little less than half a century ago, the subject of this sketch, William Bowker, first settled in Jersey county. He was born in Wales, England, Sept. 21, 1826, and at the age of two years came with his parents to America. They bought a farm in Mercer county, N.J., and lived there until 1838, when they came to Jersey county, Ill., buying a farm one mile south of Fidelity. His father died there Aug. 8, 1844. He lived with his mother and ran the farm for her until she sold it in 1864, and went to Franklin county, Kan., where she died in Sept. 1882. His brother Henry now owns a farm there. His brother Franklin is in Oregon, and his brother Edwin is in California. William entered 160 acres of land east of Virden, and lived on it two years, when he bought a farm of 80 acres where he now lives, and his wife having 60 acres besides that, he now has a farm of 240 acres, all of which he has so improved that it is in good condition. It is divided into 40 and 20 acre fields by hedge fences. The residence is a large two-story frame building, pleasantly located and surrounded with various out-buildings. He raises a great deal of stock – cattle, hogs and sheep – and thus uses all the grain raised on the farm. He was married in May 1856 to Elizabeth McKernan, who was born April 7, 1827. They have one son, Charles, born May 10, 1861, who is now living in Sumner county, Kan. When he first settled in this county there was one house between the place he now lives and Jerseyville. He does not occupy any office, being no craver of such. He and his wife have both been members of the Methodist church. He was a democrat until the war broke out, but since that time has been a republican, out and out a union man to the core.
John Casey, deceased, settled in what is now Fidelity township about 1848, purchasing land on section 19. He was born in county Meath, Ireland, and immigrated to America in 1848, coming directly to Jersey county. He was married in 1855 to Bridget Welsh, a daughter of Martin and Bridget Welsh. They had six children born to them: George, Martin, Mary, John, Elizabeth, and Margaret. Mrs. Casey died Jan. 16, 1868 and was buried in the Catholic cemetery at Jerseyville. Mr. Casey’s death occurred June 15, 1885. His remains were laid to rest beside those of his wife. Both were devoted members of the Catholic church. Their son George has charge of the farm, and all of the children live at the homestead, with the exception of Martin. They own 180 acres of land, and carry on general farming, raising grain and stock. All of the family are members of the Catholic church.
James S. Loux is of German descent, and was born in Bucks county, Penn., Nov. 13, 1884. He resided with his parents until he reached his 19th year, then left home to learn the harness-maker’s trade, at which occupation he worked four years. In 1857 he came to Illinois and purchased land, about 10 miles east of Carlinville in Macoupin county, and lived on the same about five years. He then sold out and came to Jersey county, buying land on section 7, Fidelity township, where he now owns a valuable farm containing 121 acres. He was married Dec. 8, 1861 to Susan Wooden, daughter of Richard and Sarah (Clausen) Wooden. They have one child, Mary Ellen. Mr. Loux has held the office of school director, and in politics is a staunch republican.
Richard R. Ely, deceased, came to this county in 1838, being then ten years of age. He accompanied his parents, Richard and Amy Ely, who settled southeast of Jerseyville, on the place now owned by Charles Adams. Richard R. Ely was born in Monmouth county, New Jersey, on Dec. 26, 1828. He was reared in this county from his tenth year, and resided here until the time of his death, Jan. 22, 1870. He was married Jan. 13, 1853 to Mary Ann Fitzgerald, a native of Ohio, a daughter of William Fitzgerald. In Dec. 1854 Mr. Ely moved to the farm, on section 11 near Fidelity village, where his family now reside. It contains 160 acres. They also have 10 acres in Ruyle township. Mr. Ely was a well known and highly respected citizen of Jersey county and held, among other important offices, that of justice of the peace of this township. He was a member of Fidelity lodge of the A. F. & A. M. Mr. and Mrs. Ely had eight children, seven of whom are living: Isaac R., now living in Panama; William F., in Denver, Col.; Archibald F.; Rebecca Jane; Elizabeth Ann, wife of Douglas Stanley of Jerseyville township; Cora May and Fannie Amy. One daughter, Jeanette, died Jan. 14, 1850.
Silas Bates, one of the most prosperous men in this neighborhood, was born Aug. 13, 1817 in Butler county, Ohio. He spent his youth in that place, serving as a apprentice with his father, who was a tanner and shoemaker, until he was 17 years old. In 1834, his father moved to Delaware county, Ind., where he stayed until the spring of 1843. Silas stayed with his father until he was 23 years old when he was married to Selina Hamilton, born in 1813. After his marriage he built a cabin on his fathers-in-law’s place where he lived some three years. He then moved to what is now known as the D’Arcy farm, where he lived for 16 years, paying his attention during that time to farming. He then came to the place now occupied by him. The two eldest children were born in Indiana. The first, George W. died when only six weeks old; Samuel, who married Mary Patterson and lives in California, born 1841; Stephen died in his sixth year; William who married Emma Cheatam and lives in Nebraska; David, born October 1847; Eliza Jane, married to John Chatman and living in Jerseyville, born in 1850; Nancy Ann, married to E. Tellus and living near home, born in 1851; Mary married to Zadoc Coreths and living in Kansas, born 1854; Selina and Silas, named after father and mother, born in 1857; Silas is married to Rosa Smith and Selina is home with her parents; Arch. married to Emily Hutchinson, born 1862, died Nov. 27, 1879; Jessie, born 1866, single and at home. Mr. Bates has been a member of the Baptist church for 18 years, his wife also, being a member. Her home was in West Virginia where she was born in 1820. He is 68 and Mrs. Bates 65 years of age. As he has been a prudent, saving and industrious man, he has contrived to save considerable of this world’s goods and has 960 acres, all in body, well fenced and in good condition.
Frank Komarek is a native of Bohemia, Austria, born June 24, 1835. His parents, Joseph and Katherine (Starskahl) Komarek, were natives of Bohemia, and lived and died in that country. The subject of this sketch was brought up in his native country, where he received a liberal education, and also acquired a very thorough knowledge of music, enabling him to play upon any instrument. He was married in Bohemia, Jan. 28, 1857, to Katherine Matjaka, a native of that country, and a daughter of Frank and Mary (Kautzlik) Matjaka. In 1860 he, with his wife, bade farewell to friends and fatherland, and taking a passage on board a vessel at Hamburg, came to New York. He went from there to St. Louis, and soon after came to Jersey county, settling in Richwoods township, where he resided 14 years. He then came to his present location on section 16, Fidelity township. He owns 120 acres of land, all of which is under cultivation. He also has rented land, raising a considerable amount of grain, and also stock. Mr. and Mrs. Komarek have eight children: Antoinette, living in Saline county, Kan.; Albert, Katherine, Edward, John, Lena, Vincent and Frank. Mr. and Mrs. Komarek are members of the Catholic church. He is school director of his district, and is a useful and respected citizen.
Mrs. Mary B. Christopher is the widow of the late John Christopher and a daughter of John and Jane (Wilcox) Ryan, the latter a native of Canada. Mrs. Christopher was born in Upper Alton, March 22, 1822, and resided with her parents until her marriage, March 20, 1850, to Dr. James Bringhurst. By this union there were four children: James, the oldest, was born April 28, 1851, and married March 9, 1876 to Carrie Lemmons, who died Dec. 26, 1880, and was buried in Independence, Kan. He was again married Oct. 7, 1884 to Edna Hudson, and is now living at Fidelity. John was born May 7, 1873 [sic 1853?], and married Margaret Thompson. Robert was born March 22, 1855, and married Oct. 22, 1877 to Mary Frances Coolage. Harry, the youngest, was born Sept. 16, 1857, and married Feb. 19, 1879 to Anna Bacon. Dr. Bringhurst resided in Jerseyville and had an extensive practice in this county. He died June 23, 1870, and was buried in Oakland cemetery. His widow was married April 26, 1874 to John Christopher, a resident of Fidelity township, where his death occurred Oct. 25, 1878. He was the owner of a fine farm on section 13, where Mrs. Christopher now lives. She has 240 acres, all in cultivation. She is a member of the Baptist church at Fidelity.
Edward B. Simmons, an enterprising young farmer of Fidelity township, was born on the place where he now resides, Oct. 1, 1860. His childhood and youth were spent in working on his father’s farm and attending the district school. On arriving at his 20th year he went to Greenfield, where for two years he attended the high school, after which he was a student one term at the Jacksonville Business College. He then returned home and has since followed agricultural pursuits. He was married Oct. 18, 1883 to Clara Powel, daughter of Dr. Henry and Margaret D. Powel. Mr. Simmons is the owner of 160 acres of land in southwestern Kansas; also 160 acres in Iowa. He now resides on land belonging to his father’s estate in section 26.
John C. Marshall was born in Preble county, O., Sept. 11, 1826, where he lived until he was 19 years of age, when he moved to Jersey county with his parents. They lived on the Beaty farm one year, and then took the Duncan farm in 1846. From there he moved into this township, and now has a farm of 160 acres. He was united in marriage with Grace Hooper, July 9, 1857. Out of a family of 10 children, eight are now living. He is a member of the Free Mason’s lodge No. 152 of Fidelity, and has held the office of school director. In politics he is a staunch republican. His father at one time owned the farm he now possesses, and he assisted in the improvement of the farm before it came into his possession, so that now it is well fenced and tilled. Some of the rails were made by him 35 years ago, he knowing them by the knots he finds on them.
William H. Hutchison came to Jersey county in 1837, accompanying his parents, who settled in Jerseyville, which at that time contained only a small number of families. His father followed shoemaking. Wm. was born in Trenton, N.J., Jan. 7, 1835, and was reared in this county. When 16 years old he began learning the blacksmith trade, which he followed 8 years in Jerseyville. In 1860 he removed to Mason county, where he worked at his trade one year, then enlisted in the Union Army, joining Company H of the 17th Ill. Inf. He served 3 years as a member of that regiment, then re-enlisted in the 144th regiment, in which he served 10 months as lieutenant of Co. I. He returned home at close of the war, and resumed work at his trade in Bath, Mason County, where he remained about 5 years. At the expiration of that time he came back to Jersey County, where he has since followed farming. He now owns a farm of 80 acres, located on section 19, Fidelity township, and carries on general farming, also works at blacksmithing. He was married Oct. 3, 1858, to Elizabeth OLary [sic O’Leary], daughter of Martin and Eliza O’Leary. Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson have eight children – Charles, Georgiana, Emma, Rebecca, Lloyd, William, Elizabeth and Minnie.
John Roady was born in Knox county, Tenn. on May 4, 1846, and is a son of Nathaniel and Rebecca (Long) Roady. About the year 1850 the family moved to Illinois, locating in what is now Fidelity township, Jersey county. Here John was reared and educated. Oct. 27, 1868 he was married to Rebecca Jones, a native of Madison county, Ill., and daughter of Thomas and Nancy (Pruitt) Jones, early settlers of this portion of the state, a sketch of whom will appear elsewhere in this work. Mr. and Mrs. Roady are the parents of five children: Charles Henry, Rosa E., John A., Dora and Alice. Mr. Roady owns a farm of 100 acres located on section 16, Fidelity township, where he resides. He cultivates 80 acres, carrying on general farming.
The school building in district No. 2 is located on the southeast quarter of section 28. The first building in this district was erected during the year 1855. School was held before this in a frame house on section 28, on land now belonging to Peter Tietsort. It had formerly been a residence. The first term was taught in the spring of 1850. Martha Chapman and a Miss Simmons, daughter of Samuel Simmons, were the earliest teachers in this district. The school edifice was rebuilt in 1880, being finished Aug. 31. The cost was $600. The land on which is stands was donated by George Hoffman.
The first building for educational purposes in district No. 3 was erected in 1854. Henry Priest was the first teacher in that building. The school edifice at present used was built in 1868 by John R. Mousley. The first teacher in that school was a married man, Thomas G. Shannon. The building is 26 x 38 feet in dimensions and cost $1,200.
In the days when the grange movement was enjoying its days of greatest prosperity, the neighborhood of Fidelity was one of the strongholds of the order, and today there are few localities in the country where the spirit of this organization is so well preserved.
Prairie Union Grange No. 1213 was organized March 5, 1874, with the following charter members: J. L. Simmons and wife, T. G. Shannon and wife, John W. Christopher and wife, Chas. Brown and wife, J. H. H. Simmons, John Hopp, J. P. Davidson, W. J. Bell, T. G. Hammond, William Powers, John Wagoner, William Armstrong, E. R. Jones, M. Carney and wife, John Carney and wife, Isaac Crane and wife, H. Douglas and wife. The first officers were: D. Q. Trotter, master; T. G. Shannon, lecturer; W. J. Bell, secretary; J. H. H. Simmons, chaplain. D. Q. Trotter served as master for six years; A. G. Hurd at present holds that position. The meetings are held regularly on the Friday before the full moon of each month. These meetings are held in the school house of district No. 3. The grange has a storeroom, built in 1879, at a cost of $100. It is built on the east half of the southeast quarter of section 26, on the farm of D. Q. Trotter, and near his residence. Mr. Trotter is purchasing agent, and has been since the organization. He transacts all the business done through the agency of the store. The grange has a capital of $500, which is kept invested in staple groceries. The store does a business of about $2,00 annually. There are 45 members in the organization.
The Hopewell burying ground is located on the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section 34 and contains two acres, donated for burial purposes by R. J. Simmons in 1842. It is not positively known who the first burial in this cemetery was, but among the very first was a son, and the second wife of R. J. Simmons.
The Fidelity Baptist church was organized in 1853. There is a regular pastor, and services are held regularly.
The Hopewell Methodist church was one of the first religious organizations in the township. The society was united with the Baptists of the neighborhood in forming a union church.
The Fidelity M. E. church was organized in the fall of 1856 by Rev. G. W. Waggoner.
The Simmons family built the first log house in the township in 1830.
The first child in the township was born to Thomas and Ann Chapman in 1831. It died in infancy.
The first marriage ceremony in the township was that which united R. J. Simmons and Maria Cummings as man and wife. The ceremony was performed by Simon Peter in 1832. Both parties are now deceased, the groom dying in Jan. 1885.
The first death was that of the child of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Chapman, mentioned above, which died in 1831. It was buried in the Chapman cemetery, and was the first one buried there.
James Simmons broke the first ground in the township in 1830. He also sowed the first wheat and planted the first corn.
The first religious services were held in the cabin of James Simmons by Rev. Jacob Miles in 1831.
The first religious edifice built in the township was the Hopewell church in 1842.
The first justice of the peace in Fidelity township was S. C. Simmons. He served four years from that election.
Village of Fidelity
This village on sections 11 and 12, Fidelity township, contains between 200 and 300 population, a number of business places, a school building, churches, a mill, etc. It was laid out on land belonging to Joseph Russell, who named the place, and the survey was made on Jan. 5, 1850.
John Sullivan was the first to locate in the village of Fidelity. He was a blacksmith, and built a shop which was the first in the place.
Tobias Barthlow was the first store-keeper in Fidelity. His stock, however, was not very extensive. He did not remain long.
The first really permanent settler was Dr. Jay, who kept a drug store.
The first dry goods store was conducted by Hill & Cheney, who were afterwards succeeded by Q. M. Hauskins.
Present Business Interests
M. E. Lesem is one on the largest dealers in Fidelity. He commenced the general merchandise business in Sept. 1884. The building he occupies is 30 x 50 feet in size, and is of frame construction. He carries a complete and well assorted general stock, consisting of dry goods, clothing, notions, groceries, boots and shoes, carpets, queensware, glassware, hardware, tobacco, cigars, stoves, tinware, etc.
The most successful, although the youngest business man in the town of Fidelity, is M. E. Lesem. He was born in Tuscumbia, Mo. on Dec. 3, 1863, his parents being Marks and Amelia Lesem. When he was 15 years of age, his parents moved to St. Louis, where his father engaged in business, and where he still resides. He received his education in Tuscumbia and St. Louis, finishing in the latter city. After leaving school he clerked for his father for some time, and then engaged in the manufacture of ladies’ underwear in St. Louis with his brother. From there he came to Fidelity, where he has been in business since Sept. 1, 1884. Although he is only 21 years old, he already shows business qualities of the highest order, and if he continues as he has begun, will in time be considered a leading business man wherever he chooses to locate.
Thomas Mercer is engaged in the general merchandise trade in Fidelity. The business was commenced by Hathaway & Wade about 1860. They erected the store building. The firm of Holden & Miner, composed of Richard Holden and C. F. Miner, next conducted the business. They were succeeded by Whitchild & Teitsort, who in turn gave way to Aydelott Bros. R. S. Moore purchased the stock of the last named firm, and he sold to Joseph Vaughn. C. H. Garrison was the next proprietor, and he ran it until 1883, when the present owner, Thomas Mercer, took charge.
Moran & Graham are among the dealers in groceries. The business was commenced by Squire Whitfield, who erected the building. He was succeeded by Charles Garrison. He closed out the business after a time, and the building remained idle about two years. Anderson Pruitt and Jefferson Dixon re-opened the store. They sold out to Thomas Moran in the fal of 1883, who conducted the business alone until March 1885, when Finley Graham was admitted to the firm as a member.
James Bringherst is a representative of the blacksmithing line. His shop was erected in February 1885.
Fidelity has a handsome school house built in 1866 and 1867 by John Williamson. It is a two-story structure, and has a pretty steeple. The primary department is on the lower floor. The original cost of the building was $5,500. Some additions have been made since the edifice was first completed. The first teacher was Stroud Keller. Cornelius Roach was principal for the school year 1884-85, and Maggie Quinn teacher in the primary grade.
The Ritter House was built by Henry Ritter in 1852, and by him it was conducted as a hostelry for the accommodation of traveling public for several years. John Seago was the next landlord, and officiated in that capacity for three or four years. He sold it to Ben. Davies, who in turn conducted it for two or three years. Stephen R. Bowman was the next to run the hotel. He had it nearly two years. After this, the house went to decay, and now presents rather a forlorn appearance. It is owned by a man named Cadle.
The Union Hotel was built by David Jay in 1861, who was the first landlord of the house. It next passed into the hands of Bagley & Warren, who sold it to James Frost in 1867. Mr. Frost has since used the place as a residence.
The flouring mill in Fidelity was erected in 1860 by J. J. Haycroft, and operated by him until 1864, when it was burned down. Mr. Haycroft re-built the plant in 1866. He then ran it another year, when he sold it to W. K. Miner. Mr. Miner died, and the property is now owned by his heirs, being his four children. The mill was leased by William Hoover in 1874, and since that time he has operated it. The mill is fairly well equipped. Its business is mostly custom grinding.
The postoffice was established in Fidelity in 1854. Q. M. Hankins was the first postmaster. Thomas A. Price is present incumbent of that office.
Thomas A. Price was born Sept. 22, 1832 in New Jersey. He was the son of Joseph and Mary Price, both natives of England. His father was born in 1810, and came to America when he was three years of age. His mother was born in 1811. In 1840 they moved westward from New Jersey, to Jersey county, Ill., and bought land where Judge Lowe now lives, and which was then nothing but wild prairie. The father broke the first furrow there, and in a few years had the land in good shape, when he sold it and bought land two miles west of Fidelity. He died in 1846. Then, as Thomas was the oldest of six children, he ran the farm for his mother, until his marriage to Lydia Trombly in 1856. She was born on Sept. 20, 1837. He then rented the farm, on which he worked himself, until 1861, when he enlisted in Co. F., 14th Inf. He was in the battles of Fort Donelson, Shiloh, siege of Corinth, Matamora Heights and Vicksburg. In the battle of Shiloh, 50 of his company were engaged, and 24 of them were killed and wounded. He was in Sherman’s first raid across from Vicksburg to Meridian. His division marched 20 miles farther, and were brought back up the river to Cairo. The regiment had charge of a drove of cattle and were taken up the river to Savanah, from there to Chattanooga, and were then brought back to Huntsville, Ala. His term of enlistment having expired, he was discharged and sent back to Springfield, June 18, 1864. Since that he has been engaged in farming. He is now postmaster of Fidelity, and has held the office of justice of the peace for the past six years. He has seven children, all of whom are living. He is a member of the Baptist church, as was his wife until her death in Nov. 1882.
Among the enterprising and respected citizens of Fidelity township is James T. Hauskins, an old time resident of the village of Fidelity. He was born in Greene county, April 3, 1823, near Carrollton, on a farm now owned by Juduthan Eldred, where he lived until 1849. He then moved to Jersey county, in the vicinity of Fidelity, remaining there until 1858, when he gave up farm life, and moved into the village. He has since sold his farm, as he thought the care of it was too much for a man of his years, and will take it easy the rest of his life. He has been twice married. First to Emily Clark, of Greene county, on June 3, 1852, she died April 1, 1878. He was married again, Dec. 30, 1879, to Mrs. Jane M. Baldwin. He had seven children by his first marriage: Elam, born Mr. 11, 1853, died April 29, 1854; Morton, born Oct. 4, 1855, died Aug. 22, 1857; Eunice, born Jan. 15, 1857, died Aug. 23, 1857; Paul, born Oct. 5, 1858, died Feb. 11, 1873; John W., born Mar. 10, 1860, died Feb. 16, 1875; Edgar, born Dec. 9, 1862; and James Everett, born Oct. 7, 1864. He has one child by the last marriage, Chester E., born Aug. 26, 1881. He is a member of the M.E. church of Fidelity, his wife being a member of the Universalist church. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity of Fidelity. Politically he is a republican. The following resolutions, passed by the Fidelity and Piasa circuit of the M.E. church, April 1, 1878, in regard to the death of Emily Hauskins, wife of J. T. Hauskins: “Whereas, it hath please the Almighty God, in his wise providence, to remove from our midst, by death, our much beloved sister; therefore, resolved that in the death of Sister Hauskins, the church has lost a true friend, and the community a good citizen; resolved, that we humbly submit to the will of God, who doeth all things well; resolved, that we the members of the quarterly conference of Fidelity and Piasa circuit of the Alton district of the Southern Illinois conference, hereby extend to Brother James T. Hauskins and family our prayers and heartfelt sympathy in their sad loss.”
Thomas Benton Aydelott was born in Preble county, O., April 29, 1845. In 1850 he came with his father to this state, to a location near Jerseyville, where they remained until the spring of 1851, when they moved to a place a mile and one-half southeast of Fidelity, living there two years. They then moved northeast into Macoupin county, and from there came back to the place they had recently occupied in the vicinity of Fidelity, and after living there for a while, in June 1857 they moved into the village, where his father built a frame residence in the east part of town. On April 15, 1869, Thomas B. was married to Sarah A. Jervis, of Preble county, O. She was born on April 30, 1853. They have a family of five children, three boys and two girls: Thomas A., born Nov. 26, 1870; Mary L., born Oct. 4, 1872; Charles F., born Aug. 19, 1875; Lucy A., born July 17, 1878; and James H., born Aug. 13, 1883. He holds the office of school director and clerk of the school board, and is president of the board of trustees of the village. At one time he held the office of constable for two years. He and his wife are members of the Methodist church. His political views are democratic.
Fidelity lodge No. 152, A. F. & A. M. was organized on Oct. 3, 1855. The charter members were: David Jay, Nathaniel Jane, John H. Reddish, and others. The lodge was organized with David Jay as master; Nathaniel Jane, senior warden; John Reddish, junior warden. The officers at present are: W. S. Sirls, W.M.; Henry Kemper, S.W.; James Starett, J.W.; R. D. Simmons, S.D.; Jacob Black, J.D.; Thomas Watson, T.; Jno R. Garrety, S.; T. C. Wilkerson and F. W. Sears, stewards; John Carney, tyler. There are at present 25 members.
The St. Louis, Jerseyville & Springfield railroad, a branch of the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific, was built through Fidelity in 1882, and in that year the depot was built.
An Old Landmark, by Adelia Miner Ely
Contributed by Marty Crull and his volunteers.
The razing of the old Holden & Miner store at Fidelity to make room for the new brick bulding to be built by the Fidelity Mercantile Company, causes a tingle of sadness to creep through us because another link is being broken that severs us from our childhood days.
Soon after the tragedy of which I made mention in former reiniscences at which time George Miller was among the victims, and whose death removed the senior partner of the Miller & Holdn store, Messrs. Hathaway & Wade of Alton, who had stocked the old brick store building belonging to Dr. Jay, decided to purchase a lot and errect a new building. So in the early spring of 1866, the lot upon which the old store now being wrecked stood, was bought from W. T. Shitfield for $200, and the contract was let to John Williamson and Warren Christopher. All the lumber used in the construction of said store was hauled from Alton by wagon, a distance of twenty miles.
In the early fall, the building was ready for occupancy at a cost of $2300 (less the lot upon which it stood), C. F. Miner becoming a member of the firm. The stock consisted of dry goods, clothing, boots and shoes, hats and caps, groceries, paints and oils, hardware, clocks, jewelry, millinery and some drugs. Then, too, I quite well remember seeing a long row of wheat drills standing along the south side of the building, so the stock consisted of everything from ladies hats to boxes of pills. This stock amounted to $1500.
In 1867 Charles Mercer was employed as tailor. A room in the west part of the building was fitted up as a tailor shop and here Mr. Mercer, the quiet, peaceful Quaker gentleman, made suits of clothes for all the men folks, both old and young, around Medora, Kemper, and Fidelity, Also Piasa and Shipman.
In a ledger used by the firm, I find that Edson Dodge paid $14.50 for a pair of trousers. They were perhaps the ones he wore to the big Lovejoy picnic when he drove Rock and were no doubt ruined by the terrible dust. Imperial tea sold for $2.40 per pound, coal oil $1 per gallon. This reminds me of the first coal oil lamp that came into our home. Father had been to Alton and seeing a number of lamps on display, he purchased one, and bringing it home cautioned the younger members of our family to let it alone lest an explosion might occur, and that he or mother would attend to the lighting of it. My! What a bright light it did make.
Previous to this time our lamps in which some sort of oil was burned were fitted with a burner containing two brass tubes, the size of a lead pencil in diameter, containing round wicks. On either side of the burner was a small brass cap. When extinguishing the light these caps were placed over the tubes. A lamp chimney was unknown, but a candle was the safety light in those days.