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Jersey County Page     Jerseyville History

Jerseyville 1869From the Jersey County Democrat, December 4, 1869. There will be typos.

A Sketch of the City and its Attractions – A Picture made up of Facts, not Fancies – Our Business Enterprises and Business Men.

It was originally the design of the writer of this sketch to make it quite broad and comprehensive, tracing the growth of Jerseyville from its infancy to the present time, and noting at length the progress made by the surrounding country, exhibiting comparative tables &c. But to do that would require more time than we have at our command at present – more space than the columns of the Democrat can afford; consequently we limit ourselves chiefly to a description of our town as it is, reserving our first purpose until another time. Of course it will be found necessary to speak of the past – this we shall only do in a general way.

We all know how our friends abroad desire some accurate conception of our surroundings, and how futile is the attempt to convey such an idea through the ordinary forms of epistolary correspondence; so this method is used, believing it will promote the greatest good of the greatest number.

There are at all times hundreds of families in the old eastern and middle states who long to leave that depleted, worn-out land, and come to the west, where broad acres by the million are awaiting the advent of the husbandman with his plough-share; but they are at a loss where to locate. many love the freedom of action attached to a pioneer’s life, and wish to make a home far from the busy haunts of men, where, unrestrained by conventionalities, they can breathe the pure air of perfect freedom.

Others would not for worlds endure the hardships incident to settling in a new country, but desire to go where land is cheap, markets good, soil productive, and where their families may enjoy a high degree of social intercourse, and religious and scholastic advantages.

It is especially for the benefit of this class of persons we write. In order that they may realize the advantages possessed by this portion of the country, we attempt to depict them in truthful colors; and with a belief that a visit will substantiate the truth of what we say; and if the citizens of Jerseyville and surrounding country will each one send a copy of this number of the Democrat to their friends abroad with the view of inducing them to locate here, they will only be doing their duty, and working for the common good.

Jerseyville is the county seat of Jersey county, in the south-westerly part of the state, upon the Jacksonville branch of the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis railroad.. [unreadable text]. The streets are broad, and laid out at right angles with each other, presenting an appearance of regularity and order that is really refreshing when contrasted with many of the towns in the west.

Jerseyville is by no means a new place. It is not a monstrous bubble blown into existence by speculators, subject to every caprice of Dame Fortune, but is the result of the needs of the county. Its growth has not been either preternaturally rapid or morbidly slow; it has grown with the growth of the county, has strengthened with its strength, and is like the house built upon the rock of which the scriptures speak, inasmuch as its stability is as positive as any other city in the land. It never can be a great town – the necessity for that does not exist, and it is lacking in many essential features necessary to insure metropolitan proportions, but it is one of the busiest, most successful and attractive cities in the state of Illinois.

Its Location

is enough to recommend it to the searcher after a home. Situated upon a broad, rolling prairie, rich in everything that tends to make a country desirable, it certainly merits the highest encomiums that can be lavished upon it. The town site is such that drainage is easily obtained – by no means a small desideratum – and is well protected by timber from the cold winds which usually sweep across the face of our prairies. To the west at a distance of about four miles, there is an abundance of timber, chiefly oak, and also to the north and north-east.

The Streets

are, as we have said, broad and pleasant, line, for the most part, upon either side with magnificent shade trees, which, during the summer season, gives the city almost the appearance of another Arcadia. Many of the yards to residences are filled with choice and beautiful flowers, which, added to the verdure of the trees and shrubs, form a tout ensemble gratifying in the extreme to the eye of the beholder.

The Adjacent Country

is rich in agricultural resources, as is already proven by the events of the past year. While in almost every portion of the west farmers have been bemoaning short crops (and in many localities no crops), the farmers of Jersey county have reaped, if not an abundance, certainly a fair average crop. True it is that in the excessively low localities wheat and other grain was drowned out; but the country generally being so rolling, comparatively few have suffered from the cause given above. Naturally enough, much, if not all, of the prosperity of a town must depend upon the country. If the farmer suffers, the merchant suffers, – but among the best evidence of the general prosperity of the whole country are the large transactions of most of our business houses.

The Business Portion of Town

and in fact the entire town proper is situated nearly or quite a half a mile from the railway – just far enough away to be freed from the smoke and noise of passing trains, and yet near enough to meet all the requirements of business. The business houses, instead of being clustered around the court house are chiefly upon two streets, one running north and south, the other east and west. This arrangement allows more extended space for growth of business interests than when clustered upon the four sides of a square, and is worthy of imitation in other prospective county seats. There are very few find business blocks, but time will remedy this defect. Already the spirit of improvement is manifesting itself in various ways, and a few short years will make a most radical change in this respect.

Since the Railroad

reached Jerseyville new life and vigor has been experienced, and from an obscure country and inland town it takes place among the important grain and stock-shipping points of the west. Is it too much to hope that this life-giving cause, like a little leaven in bread, will expand its effects, create new trade, enlarge contracted ideas, and to a certain extent transmogrify the town and country, making old and slow ideas give place to new, quick and far-seeing ones? We opine not.

The question uppermost in the minds of many about to remove to a section of the country new to them is one of health. Is Illinois a healthy portion of the west, and how concerning the health of Jersey county? While it would be preposterous to claim that by removing to Jerseyville or any other section of this county humanity in general would escape all the ills flesh is heir to, yet we can conscientiously claim a high degree of health accorded to the inhabitants here, and the reasons for it are obvious to any one. The gentle winds which sweep across our prairies during the year are not laden with malaria – they do not bring pestilence and death in their train, but pure air, pure as air can be, is found above and around all. The idea that the decaying vegetation of our prairies is a fruitful source of disease is too absurd to command a moment’s attention. True, we are not exempt from disease, but, taken as a whole, the climate is especially healthful, and no location in the state can prove more desirable from a sanitary point of view.

Next to health comes enquiries respecting the scholastic, moral, social and religious advantages to be derived here. With feelings of pride the citizens of Jerseyville can point to churches of almost every denomination – churches that are fit representations of the sublime pletein(?) the most high, where from Sabbath to Sabbath hundreds of the friends of christianity meet of offer their prayers and praises to the Supreme Ruler. The public spirit of a place is fully represented in its churches, the result of voluntary contributions. We do not know of a town in the state of Illinois, which, taking population into consideration, has better or more substantial church edifices.

[Unreadable text regarding schools] . . . This hardly meets the wants of the day; better by far have one graded and one or two primary schools. The buildings, too, are scarcely adequate to the wants of the community. Nearly 600 pupils – possibly still more – would be in attendance were the facilities better. Now, between 400 and 500 are upon the rolls. The city should take into its own hands and manage the public schools; erect and furnish with all necessary appliances one or two good school buildings; employ a competent principal; let the corps of assistants embrace the best talent to be found, and then every citizen will take pride in the public schools. They are the alma mater of nine-tenths of our youth – it is our duty to see to it that they rank high. In addition to our public schools there is a young ladies’ seminary, in a prosperous condition, which is doing good work in our midst.

The social side of a town is difficult to understand until after long residence; but careful inquiry demonstrates a degree of cordiality on the part of citizens towards strangers commendable in the highest degree. The society of our city has none of the brusqueness usually attaching to it in a new place. The proper limits are clearly defined, and yet the cold and distant hauteur of most old and wealthy places is lacking. This is as it should be. To respectable strangers the right hand of friendship should be freely proffered, and they made to feel that though amid strangers they are surrounded by friends.

Many improvements have taken place in our city since the advent of the railroad, and before another twelve months shall have passed away, many more will have been made. The character of the buildings erected within the past year or two, especially, give evidence of that fact. An observant stranger strolling through the streets will see countless evidences of prosperity and improvement on every hand. Old things are passing away, but in their place spring up objects more desirable, more in accordance with the spirit of the age.

The court house is a substantial brick edifice situated in the public square, one block away from the business street, but near enough to meet the requirements of the people. It probably will answer the wants of the county for a few years yet, when it must give way to a more imposing structure.

Another question that very nearly concerns us all is the cost of living. That is inquired after by the stranger with no little degree of solicitude. We refer the question to the market reports as given from week to week in the columns of the Democrat. In an agricultural country the cost of living must of necessity be comparatively small, and the denizens of the large cities will find, upon a trial, a material difference in favor of the country towns.

We have room here for hundreds and thousands. While the counters, and the workshops, and the offices of the cities are crowded to repletion there are thousands of acres of land in Jersey and other counties awaiting the appearance of the plough-share, ready to return bountiful yields to the husbandman. There is room for all who may wish to come and work. In our city there is urgent need of more manufactories of every kind. A market can readily be found for everything made, and our people stand ready to encourage any enterprise which will result in good to the town. We need a large woolen mill – a sash, door and blind factor would pay well. Almost any manufacturing enterprise would prove a remunerative investment. We need gas, and the prospects are that we shall have it soon. We need some enterprising man or company who will develop the vast wealth of coal under our very feet. We need more men of energy, perseverance, “snap” – men who are not afraid to put their shoulder to the wheel and push. Not that we are without such men – we would not be so understood; for as a class, the citizens of Jerseyville and surrounding country are enterprising, but we want more of them. Men make the towns – men of nerve, of pluck, not useless drones in the body social.

And now it becomes our pleasant task to introduce in this sketch most of the leading business men, at more or less length. We all stand in need of the kindly services of each other, and we will aim to present a true exhibit of each man and his business. Without wishing to discriminate in favor of or against any one, we first will mention

I. M. Beardslee,

who has been in active business here for the past ten years and become pretty generally known throughout the country as a man of probity and fair dealing, whose every word can be relied on. He has made hosts of friends throughout the county who rejoice in his success, and his trade has been won through the pursuance of a policy which commends itself to everybody. On the counters and shelves of his well-stocked establishment may be found everything new and fashionable or time honored and serviceable. His stock can be relied on as fresh and desirable, embracing all classes of goods in the dry goods line, as well as a fine assortment of hats and caps, boots and shoes, ready made clothing, general notions &c. Do you desire a piece of dress goods, a few yards of elegant trimming, or fancy buttons; or would you like some domestic cotton or woolen goods, some silk or laces? You can find everything of that and kindred nature here in endless profusion. Mr. Beardslee would especially invite the attention of ladies and gentlemen to his elegant stock of furs of every description. What more suitable Christmas present than a cape or muff to a loved wife, daughter or sister? But call, reader, at his store, and look at the stock for yourself. Gentlemanly and courteous attendance will surely be received.

L. P. Squier,

although a comparative new-comer her (having commenced on the 1st of August last) is rapidly winning for himself a most desirable name and trade. Having some little love for the beautiful in our composition, we spent a short time in his establishment, examining the many and beautiful specimens of household furniture, and inwardly complimented the taste of Mr. Squier in making such selections. We found everything in the furniture line that would naturally have a place in a first class furniture establishment. “Rep,” and “hair cloth,” and “damask” covered -?- abound, while marble-topped center tables, bureaus and wash-stands are as plentiful [text following is unreadable] . . . We are glad to chronicle the success of this business enterprise, and we predict that Mr. Squier will, when the times get a little easier, find himself in just the place where his facilities will be taxed to the utmost. Pleasant, suave and accommodating to all, fortune will of necessity shower favors upon him.

L. J. Casavant

is not necessarily a “time server,” if he does sell watches, clocks &c. On the contrary, his reputation is that of an honorable man, and his business has been built up in part from his personal popularity. In addition to this, however, he keeps an elegant stock of goods, which of themselves recommend his bijou of a store as a most desirable place at which to trade. He keeps a full line of the best make of gold and silver watches, especially the American and Elgin; jewelry of every form and finish, or modern and antique design, embracing bracelets, finger rings, plus, brooches, studs, seal rings, lava and jet jewelry, precious tones, &c., as well as clocks of all descriptions. Being a thorough and practical workman he undertakes the repairing of watches or clocks with the full assurance of doing it right. You need fear no blunders at his hands, nor need any one send work of this description out of town in order to have it done. Mr. Casavant understands his business and will give satisfaction. He is also prepared to execute work in that line of business so few jewelers understand, engraving. Now that told is “falling,” Casavant’s is just the place to go for a holiday present. He will sell ‘em cheap.

E. C. Calm

claims to be still ahead of the times, and we guess he is. Certainly no man who does not command a large and increasing trade, would have the temerity to be constantly buying fresh and seasonable goods. But, you see, reader, “there’s the point.” The goods Calm keeps are fresh and seasonable – old fashioned, musty articles don’t find room in his establishment, he has no use for them, and his patrons know they can rely upon any representation made by him. Mr. Calm is one of the most successful merchants of Jerseyville. He has studied the wants of the community, and knows just how and what to buy in order to please his large and constantly increasingly array of customers. This stock consists of dress goods for the winter trade, embracing everything from ten cent calico to costly silks and laces, white goods, hosiery; the best of custom-made boots and shoes, gaiters and boots for the ladies, and copper-toed shoes and boots for the school boy. Indeed this branch of his business is made a prominent feature in the establishment, and by reason of the skill and tact with which it is conducted, commends itself to every one. In addition to all this, Mr. Calm’s assortment of serviceable and fashionable hats, caps, and gentlemen’s and youth’s clothing is very large, and he is prepared to offer unsurpassed inducements in this line. Call and look at his stock.

Herman Roesch

has been in the drug business in Jerseyville about two years – not a very long time, but long enough to enable him to make many friends and patrons by reason of his excellent stock of goods and uniform urbanity of manners. His stock embraces everything usually found in a first class drug store – paints, oils, patent medicines, perfumeries, notions, &c., and his drugs especially can be relied on at all times as being pure and fresh. Mr. Roesch is a practical pharmaceutist of no ordinary ability, thoroughly understanding the art of compounding medicines, and never making mistakes, sometimes so dangerous. In addition to his regular trade Mr. Roesch keeps the only news depot in the city, and always has on hand the latest news, sporting and literary papers, magazines, &c. Also a good stock of stationery.

Messrs. Voorhees & Malott

carry on a “tip-top” grocery store, and do it, too, in a way that satisfies every customer. In their line of trade especially there is very spirited competition, and Messrs. V. & M. take advantage of that fact to mark all goods down to the lowest possible price, trusting to retain their customers by fair dealing and by selling only the best of everything. Their stock of groceries embraces everything in the staple and fancy line, including teas, coffees, sugars, spices, &c., in addition to which they have a full line of provisions, and also of stoneware, wooden, willow, glass and queensware. Parties purchasing of them will find Messrs. Voorhees & Malott affable, obliging gentlemen, and we can vouch for them as being well worthy of patronage. By uniform courtesy they have made hosts of friends, and we take pleasure in enrolling their names among those of our leading business men. Although in business but a year and a half they command a large trade, which is steadily increasing, and we cordially wish them success beyond their most sanguine expectations.

R. C. Gledhill

is carrying on one of the best photograph and general art galleries in the whole state of Illinois. We dropped into his pleasantly furnished suite of rooms the other day and occupied a half hour or more very pleasantly in looking over works of art, and examining Mr. Gledhill’s facilities and apparatus for executing the orders of his patrons. We really were not prepared to find such chef d’ ouvres as met our eyes, in the way of photographs, plain and in India ink, but what especially commended itself to our attention were the life size and life-like portraits in oil which abound inhis gallery. Mr. G. has secured the services of Mr. S. M. Shaver, a portrait and landscape painter of no mean repute, and such has been the success of the gallery that Mr. Shaver’s whole time is occupied in painting portraits upon canvas. These portraits can either be enlarged from small vignettes or cartes de viste, by means of the solar camera, or the likeness of a sitter taken direct upon the canvass. Of course every feature and every expression of the features is perfect, it cannot be otherwise, and when completed, a portrait is the result, which will be handed down from one generation to another as an heir-loom – a priceless treasure. We advise all to call and examine this class of work. Mr. Gledhill’s charges are very moderate, and he will guarantee satisfaction in every instance. Ambrotypes, tin-types, and all other [remainder of text unreadable].

Wallace Leigh

is one of the oldest and most respected business men of this city, having established his business in 1853 – seventeen years . . . [unreadable text]. An experience baker and confectioner, he caters to the tastes and wants of his customers with a degree of skill unsurpassed by any one. In addition to a large and select stock of fancy groceries he keeps a splendid assortment of confectionary, toys, vases, and fancy goods generally, and from the bakery department turns out the most appetizing staff of life. Pies, cakes and bread are made fresh every day, and he is prepared to furnish parties with edibles at short notice. Also if you want a good dish of oysters, go there for it.

H. A. Brant

has one of the best and most complete cigar and tobacco establishments we have seen outside the large cities. Having been in eight years he has built up a large trade, and keeps none but the best of goods. In addition to the wholesale and retail department he has a large manufactory of cigars, employing several men. All kinds of smoker’s articles, as well as plug and fine-cut tobaccos are kept by him, and we cordially recommend his establishment for the patronage of all who use the weed.

Wm. Shephard & Co.,

the firm being composed of Wm. Shephard and M. D. Robbins, are well known at home and abroad as the popular bankers of Jerseyville – men of staunch integrity and business qualifications. Wm. Shephard is one of the pioneer settlers of this city, and from first to last his interests have been identified with those of the town. Commanding the respect and esteem of all who know him, we can truthfully say he is a representative business man. Mr. M. D. Robbins, the junior partner, has been connected with the banking business of our city for the past twelve years, and knows all the “ins” and “outs” of the profession. As a practical business man of large experience, he certainly deserves the position he had gained – one of the conservators of the monetary interests of Jerseyville. Mr. S. H. Bowman, the book-keeper, also deserves special mention, having been connected with the Bank since its organization, and is a gentleman who commands the respect and confidence of all. The firm does a general banking and exchange business, collects accounts that may be entrusted to them, and sell passage tickets to and from foreign countries. By their metropolitan connections they are enabled to do an extensive exchange business, whether home or foreign and are prepared to issue drafts upon all leading European cities. We repeat that the firm is one not only generally known but respected, and their business is one of the most important interests of the city.

Herdman & Bro.

next claim our attention for a few moments, and we know of no firm in town whom we thus call into notice with more pleasure. among our oldest and leading business men, their names are synonyms of success. They don’t fall asleep selling a dress pattern – not a bit of it, two more enterprising, wide awake business men can no be found in this or any other town. Their stock consists of dry goods, boots, shoes, hats, caps, clothing, etc., embracing staple and fancy articles, white goods, hosiery, hoop skirts, notions, dress goods, trimmings, etc., all of which they will sell at the lowest cash price. It requires no little taste to select a stock of goods which shall meet the requirements of so large a trade as these gentlemen posses, but their shelves and counters give abundant evidence that they do possess the skill, tact and taste necessary, and the convert what is ordinary simply a dry goods store into a bazaar of fashion. Calculated to make and retain friends and customers, we cannot wonder at their success amid such vigorous condition. Such is the material logic of events under such circumstances, however.

John Wiley

can also lay a claim to being one of the fixtures of Jerseyville, inasmuch as he has been in trade here since 1864, and through polite and careful attention to the multitudinous wants of the public has built up for himself a trade and reputation that is enviable. The secret of success in business appears to be in keeping none but the best of wares, selling at small margins, and in retaining customers. If a merchant can satisfy his customers that it is to their interests to trade with him, he has struck the keynote of success. Mr. Wiley does this very thing, and by keeping a large and varied assortment of goods, can supply the wants of almost any one. His stock consisting of a large and choice assortment of staple and fancy groceries, also embraces queensware, lamp, glass, wooden, willow and hardware, cutlery, &c. It is to groceries he pays most attention however. Man, being mortal, must eat. He must keep his larder replenished, and in these hard times naturally desires to buy where he can get the most goods for the least money. In this connection we would merely say: Try Wiley. He will also purchase all kinds of country produce for cash or goods at cash prices.

J. H. Ames,

a genial gentleman, who is as full of business snap as a man can be, is carrying on two hardware and tin stores in the city, and both are well stocked with everything in that line of trade. At the parent establishment, presided over by Mr. A. in propria personae, stoves, especially, are being sold at rates which would seem absolutely to defy competition. Mr. Ames probably knows what he is about, but we advise our readers to take advantage of his present offer. In addition to a large and general assortment of stoves and tin ware, he keeps a full line of cutlery, &c., and his shops enable him to manufacture or repair work to order with neatness and dispatch.

John B. Eck

is paying especial attention to, ready made clothing, boots and shoes, hats, caps, and gentlemen’s furnishing goods generally. In this establishment, certainly, extremes meet, for here can be found that which will protect one’s head from the sunshine or the storm, or his feet from the dirt of summer or the biting cold of winter, or his body from either extreme of temperature. Mr. Eck is a philanthropist in the broadest sense of the word, ministering to the “understanding” of men, and clothing -?- in “purple and “ne linen.” and does it, too, from a stock which cannot be excelled in this town. Making these branches of trade a specialty, he can buy and sell better than those who dabble in everything, from a tooth pick to a threshing machine. His stock of ready made goods is large and select comprising fashionable and serviceable suits or separate articles, and no one can wonder that his trade has become large and profitable. On examination the stock displayed goods adapted to all the wants and conditions of men, while the prices are very reasonable. No one can complain on that score. You need not take our word for it, however. Call and see for yourself, and friend Eck will demonstrate we have only told the truth.

[unreadable text regarding name and details of hardware dealer]

John C. Tack

also merits a place in our sketch, having as complete a stock of goods as can be found in the county. He bears off the palm as the merchant tailor par excellence of Jerseyville . . . [unreadable text]. In addition to his merchant tailoring department, Mr. Tack has a large and well selected assortment of ready-made clothing, manufactured from the best materials, and according to the latest styles, as well as a fine stock of boots and shoes, hats and caps. We most cordially recommend this establishment to all who may need anything in this line, believing the reader will find it to his best interests to call.

T. J. Selby,

our efficient county clerk, is carrying on one of the neatest book, stationery and fancy goods stores to be found in this portion of the state. In addition to a most complete assortment of stationery he has a fine line of musical instruments and sheet music, and undoubtedly leads the trade in his line. School and miscellaneous books of every variety can be found here, and all are cordially invited to call before purchasing elsewhere. Mr. Selby will wait upon all with courteous attention, and offer bargains none other will feel willing to duplicate.

Hassett Bros.

near the depot, are the popular lumber dealers of the city, and from an experience of two years in the midst of this community, know just what the people want. They are at all times pleased to see their friends from the town and country, believing they can offer inducements which will prove to the best interests of all desiring any description of lumber, lath, sash, doors or blinds. Their stock is very complete at all times, and embraces the choicest selections to be found in the whole county. We can assure our readers that they will find Messrs. Hassett Bros. perfect gentlemen and honorable business men; who -?- to give the utmost satisfaction. The business is an important one, and we take pleasure in mentioning it.

In addition to the business men mentioned above we have several other quite prominent houses, mention of which must be reserved until another time. We also have several flouring mills, carriage and wagon shops, two dentists, barbers, butchers, marble dealers, and lawyers and doctors ad libitum. We would like to call especial attention to each had we time and space but we have not.

For the benefit of the traveling public we would briefly call attention to our hotel accommodations, reverting to them with pride. We have two hotels, the Revere House, especially commending itself to traveling strangers. It is conducted upon the European plan, with tabled hote, and at all times offers the best the market affords. It is really a satisfaction to sit down to its well spread table, and especially pleasant and gratifying to find such well furnished rooms with luxurious beds. We can, from experience, recommend it and the landlord, J. S. Campbell, to the public.

Jerseyville boasts the possession of two newspapers, the Democrat and Republican, the former the organ of the dominant party. Both sheets are ably conducted (remember the editor of the Democrat is not writing this, and both deserve the liberal patronage of the citizens of the county.

And now, reader, you have before you a sketch of Jerseyville and its prominent business men. Hoping that the picture will please you, and returning our thanks to the citizens who have kindly assisted and shown us attention, we say au revoir, QUID NUNC.

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