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Jersey County Page     Jerseyville History

Jerseyville 1895

Jersey County Democrat, Thursday, March 14, 1895

Sketch of Jerseyville

     The first settlement within the present limits of Jerseyville, was in 1822 by John Ballard. In 1881 the farmers of the surrounding country began to feel the need of a market. A town site was selected on land entered by Lindsey H. English. This was laid off in town lots by Messrs Lott and Daly in 1834, and was known as Hickory Grove. Later the town was called Jerseyville. In 1837 the town was incorporated. In 1839 Jerseyville was selected as the county seat. The coming of the Chicago & Alton railroad in 1866 was an event of great importance in the prosperity of this little town. Prior to its coming Alton had been the shipping point.
     Jerseyville was incorporated as a city in 1867 and at the present time has about 4,000 inhabitants with two railroads, car and machine shops, fine business blocks, broad avenues overshadowed by large trees and bordered on either side by beautiful lawns and costly residences. We have also a city hall erected in 1887 and a courthouse which is one of the finest in the state and of which any city might well be proud. The courthouse was erected in 1893 at a cost of $40,000. It is lighted by electricity and heated by steam. The architect of this grand structure was Mr. Henry Elliott of Chicago; the builder Mr. F. W. Menke of Quincy, Ill. Owing to the push and energy of our city officials our streets are beautifully illuminated by electric lights put in in 1888. We have a fine system of water works, put in in 1889. Our artesian well supplying the city with the finest of water which possesses medical properties of high degree, adds of course to the many attractions.
     The health of the city and surrounding country is uniformly good; no doubt owing to the elevation and natural drainage of the site, it being 500 ft above the Mississippi river and the highest point between Alton and Jacksonville. We are all proud of our city with its many attractions and hope some day to see it further improved by the introduction of manufacturing plants which would increase its size and add to its wealth. One of the strongest testimonials for our city is the fact that while many of its residents move away to other climes and scenes in the hope of bettering their conditions and surroundings, with few exception all of them after a few years’ absence return to their old home and declare “there is no place like Jerseyville”. And well may they exclaim, for here we have everything necessary to our convenience and advancement. Splendid stores, fine markets, beautiful churches whose pulpits are supplied with ministers far above the ordinary; one of the best schools in the state, and abundance of mechanics and professional men, and in fact a representative of nearly every industry and the whole picture framed by the richest farming land of this or any other state, whose resources are simply inexhaustible. Do you blame us for liking Jerseyville?

Among The Churches
     Religion, education and prosperity, are so universally recognized as companions, that the educational achievements and business prosperity, chronicled in this paper may be considered as evidence of the strong church element existing in Jerseyville. There are in all nine flourishing churches as reported below . . . . .
     With the founding of the town, came the organization of her churches, and more than fifty years ago thirteen friends of the Baptist order, met and established the First Baptist church of Jerseyville.
     It is interesting to hear how these good people had a Sabbath morning service of two long sermons, with thirty minutes intermission; while the time set for evening worship was “at early candlelight”.
     Not until after twenty years, and much discussion, was it decided to use coal-oil for lighting the church. The present large church edifice is lighted by electricity, and has a Sunday School room, parlors, and kitchen which are models of convenience. The flue memorial pipe organ, was given by L. L. Kirby and family. The bell and town clock are also memorials, given by Mrs. Alvira Landon. Deacon Cooper and Mrs. Johnson, constituent members, and Mrs. Rebecca Hutchinson, the first lady baptized, are still among us.
     The total membership of the church is five hundred ninety-one; fifty seven of whom have been received this year. Rev. J. J. Porter, now in the fourth year of his pastorate, is one of the ablest preachers in the state. The church is famous for its liberality; home and foreign missions, both receiving generous contributions. The benevolent fund has members and 12 associate members. Two years previous to the organization of the C. E., Dr. Tyson brought together a “ Young People’s Society of Christian Workers,” which was in a prosperous condition at the time it merged itself into the Y. P. S. C. E. A very hopeful phase of the society’s condition is the increasing missionary spirit, and a considerable sum has been appropriated for this work. The C. E. officers are: President, Miss Gussie Wyckoff; Vice-President, E. C. Sperling; Cor. Sec’y., Sarah White; Recording Secretary, E. S. Stone; Treasurer, Eugene Hale. – Mary L. Tyson

     The First M. E. Church has a membership of 350, and is one of the most aggressive religious organizations in this city. Rev. Nathan Crow the pastor in charge, is a man of acknowledged ability and an indefatigable worker. During his administration the church has witnessed a splendid growth in members and usefulness. The Methodists boast of the best Sunday Schools in Jersey Co. The average attendance for this year is 243, which is the largest average ever made by a Sunday school in this county. Hon. O. B. Hamilton, the superintendent, is pushing things with force and energy. Another important auxillary of the church is the Epworth League, which has a membership of 107 active and 23 associate members. P. M. Hamilton is president; Evelyn Reynolds, Sec’y.; and Wm. Montgomery, Treas. The League has adopted lecture and reading courses, which are proving very beneficial and interesting. The Junior League, under the superintendency of Miss Clara Hamilton is composed of 80 children under the age of 15 years. Their meetings are held every Sunday afternoon in the chapel. – Alberta Slaten

     The Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross was opened June 2nd, 1881 with the Rev. G. W. G. Van Winkle, rector in charge. Prior to the building of the church, services were held in the court house, and later in Son’s Hall which was rented and fitted up for the purpose. The Ladies’ Guild has been untiring in its efforts and to these ladies is largely due the credit of paying the debt, assumed when the church was erected. A rectory fund of five hundred dollars is drawing interest and it is hoped that a rectory may soon be built, and a resident rector placed in charge. The present rector, Rev. J. B. Harrison, resides in Carrollton. Services are held in this city every other Sunday, and every Wednesday evening. The Sunday school has enrolled about forty members. The following is a list of the officers: Superintendent, Dr. Estabrooke; Secretary, Mrs. Henry Nevious; Treasurer, Harry Warren.

     St. Francis Xavier’s Roman Catholic Church was built in 1868 and dedicated in 1871. It is valued at $31,000, including the parsonage and school property. There are about 920 members of which 100 ladies belong to the Altar society of the church, and 80 little members who attend the Catholic Parochial school taught by two nuns. The success of the church has been due to the untiring efforts of the Rev. Father Harry, who started with a very small congregation 27 years ago. The success of his labor is shown by the large membership. The church has a good choir, with Miss Maggie Harry as organist, and Mrs. H. A. Shephard and Mrs. Geo. Locke as leaders of the singing. Services are always held at eight and ten o’clock in the morning and at three o’clock in the afternoon. – Mrs. J. C. McG.

     In the eastern part of town are the two houses of worship owned by the colored people. The Methodists have a new building of which they are justly proud, and the Rev. Mr. Cheetham is the pastor in charge.
     The Baptists also have a prosperous church and a good Sunday school. The church membership of about forty persons is in charge of Elder Jackson.

     The First Presbyterian church of Jerseyville was organized in 1834, with a membership of eighteen. The first building was dedicated Oct. 14, 1841 and cost $2,600.
     Between the years 1855-1858 twenty of the members withdrew and formed the Second Presbyterian church, connecting themselves with the Southern General Assembly. Since 1835, there have been eleven pastors of this church, the present pastor, Rev. Ira C. Tyson, D. D., having been here since June, 1888. The session consists of the following elders, B. C. Vandervoort, A. A. McReynolds, A. A. Barnett, W. S. Ross, T. F. Remer, P. E. Vandenburg. The present house of worship, dedicated Aug. 23, 1883, has a seating capacity of about 300. The membership of the church is between 250 and 300. The trustees are Geo. E. Warren, A. W. Cross, R. P. Shackelford, N. C. Beaty, J. H. Duffield. The Sabbath School has a membership of 280. R. L. Vandenburg, superintendent; Roy Cory, Sec’y.
     In connection with the church are the Ladies’ Missionary Society, Ladies’ Sewing Society, and the Young People’s Societies. The Junior Society, organized March, 1894, is an adjunct to the Y. P. S. C. E. The motto of both societies is “For Christ and the Church. The officers are selected from its members. The superintendent, Miss Eugenia Carlin, is a member of the senior society. The juniors have earned nearly fifty dollars during the past year, much of which has been given to the poor. They have also given some money to a missionary in Alaska who is entirely supported by the junior societies of Southern Illinois. – Eugenia Carlin

OUR SCHOOLS. CONTRIBUTIONS OF STUDENTS TO THE LADIES’ EDITION. The Children Show the Efficiency of Their Teachers.

     The call for contributions from the pupils in our schools, has elicited many meritorious articles. It has been difficult for the examining committee to discriminate among the slightly varying degress of merit, found in papers coming from the same grade. They are not the result of special drill, but were collected within a few hours after notice was given, and regular school work was not interrupted.
     To the corps of instructors is due a word in commendation of their efficient work. Jerseyville may well be proud of her public school.
     All papers contributed by pupils below the High School were submitted to a competent committee. After careful comparison, the best from each department was selected for publication in these columns. Examining Com.: Mrs. E. E. Halstead, Mrs. S. H. Bowman, Miss Mae Kirby

PRIMARY DEPARTMENT. Our school motto is, “Learn a little every day.” Lovly Sturdevant (aged 7 years)

ROOM 2 – THE CATERPILLAR. The caterpillar crawls on his legs and winds himself in a little wad and sleeps there all winter. When summer comes the shell bursts open. The caterpillar comes out and turns into a butterfly and is all streaky till he gets in the sun and dries his wings. He can fly in the air and on the clover and says, “Who wants to be a caterpillar?” Edna England

ROOM 3 – BEES. One summer when I was in the yard playing there were a whole lot of pears on our pear tree and bees too. I was barefooted, and they stung me on both my legs. Oh, it did hurt awful, and I cried dreadful! Bumble bees just sting dreadful, cause they have stung me many times. Alice M. Gaskill

ROOM 4 – PICTURES ON THE WALL. Over our door hangs a picture of “Old Abe,” the Eagle that was carried through the late war by the 8th Wisconsin regiment, and when he died he was stuffed and is now in the state house in Wisconsin. There are two pictures of Washington; one of his home and family, and the other where he is taking the oath of office as the first President of the United States. Ethel Hamilton

ROOM 5 – THE BEAVER. The beaver is a very useful animal, especially for his fur. He is found chiefly in North America. He is very sly, almost like a fox. When he thinks there is any danger for him and his family, he gives signs on the ground, with his tail. His home is mostly on and in rivers, where he builds bridges and makes nests; but they are almost cleared out by the hunters and trappers, same as the buffaloes. We hope that the beavers will be protected same as the seals in the Arctic Ocean. Anna Horn

ROOM 6 – A CHRISTMAS STORY. As Christmas was drawing near, we thought we would invite our little cousin and her parents to come and spend Christmas with us. We told Santa Claus to come around and see our little cousin. When she came, we asked her what she wanted. She said, “Oh, my! a doll, and a doll-buggy, and oh! lots of things. But don’t forget the candy and good things.” So she received her nice things, and was pleased with them. Leah Allen

ROOM 7 – THE CARNIVAL. One Saturday afternoon in January, the whole school had a carnival. There were about one hundred and fifty sleighs, and bob-sleds, in the procession. One little girl lost her cap, another her mittens. Some had on false faces. There was a little sled had a big bell on it, and a man ringing the bell. Some of the high school boys were dressed in gay colors of yellow and red. One little home-made sled had a horse hitched to it, and it ran away and a boy after it. H. S. Daniels advertised his Majestic Range by baking biscuits in the street, and throwing them in the sleds and at everybody. Mr. Page’s cutter was decorated with Chinese lanterns. It was the leader of the procession. Nettie Walker

ROOM 8 – A TRIP IN THE COUNTRY. One morning in May I started for a trip in the country. Everything seemed beautiful, the sun shining brightly, the grass sparkling with dew, birds singing their songs of melody, and wild flowers filling the air with fragrance. After reaching my cousin’s, we spent a while roaming through the fields gathering flowers. After a delicious dinner, we spent the afternoon under the shade of a tree reading and telling stories. About five o’clock I started for home. Edna Walker

ROOM 9 – OUR FLAG. The first national flag which was used before the Revolutionary war, had only the tripes representing the thirteen colonies. The present flag contains the stripes and also stars corresponding to the number of states. It was designed by a New England woman. “Our flag” brings to mind the thought of freedom, and how Washington, and many other brave men struggled for the principles which it represents. On the fourth of July 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, and since then that has been a great day of celebration throughout our land, and one in which our flag is prominent. Many poetical lines have been written about the flag. None are dearer to American hearts than the Star-Spangled Banner. On days when our school flag is raised and we see it floating in the air, let each one resolve to be true and loyal for the principles for which it stands. Minnie Hill

     It should be the aim of the pupil to be punctual in attendance at school. The boy or girl who would be successful in after life must lay the foundation of success in youth. Each one should fully understand the importance if improving school days for this purpose.
     The schooldays are so swiftly flying!
     So, haste, schoolmates, haste, for the school-
     Days you’ll be sighing. – Carrie Evans

     With what pride and thankfulness do we say three words, “Our High School.” It has sent from its portals some of the most successful, brilliant men and women of our time. It has been the means of awakening the dormant genius of many a youth; it has inspired him with enthusiasm and given him a nobler conception of life. To the ambitious it has been a never-failing source of help and profit, and the frivolous it has set to thinking. The course of study is higher than is found in most high schools. The natural sciences except Astronomy are taught by Mr. Roberts. The literary and composition courses are under the charge of Mr. Weston. The classical languages, German, Grammar and a most thorough course in World’s History are taught by our esteemed principal Mr. Pike. The Department of Mathematics and Astronomy is under Mr. Shafer. The course is unusually extended, and is equivalent to that found in the better colleges. Trigonometry and the Higher Algebra, with their many applications to surveying and astronomy, are given the attention they deserve. Maud E. Fales

     The Laboratory contains an interesting collection of apparatus, specially devoted to the studies of Chemistry and Physics. Chemicals and instruments are furnished for the use of the students in their work and every facility is afforded for acquiring a practical knowledge of the subjects through actual experiment. The interest in astronomy is greatly enhanced by the privileges of the Observatory with its splendid telescope. It is gratifying to note the general interest of our students for this, the noblest of natural sciences. X.

     Standing at the head of our corps of teachers is Prof. J. Pike who for many years has been principal of the Jerseyville High School. A graduate of the Chicago University he stands preeminent as a scholar and teacher.
     Prof. Shafer who for several years has been his able assistant is a graduate of the school that now delights to do him honor.
     Prof. Hugh Weston, also a teacher of the H. S. department and a graduate of the University of Champaign, has proven himself worthy to be enrolled among the ablest instructors.
     Prof. Arthur Roberts has been here long enough to prove that Ann Arbor, Michigan, may feel proud of one of her graduates.
     In the Grammar department Miss Caroline Leresche has shown what love united with a firm will and right discipline can do toward making rational thinking beings of the young boys and girls placed under her charge.
     Also of the Grammar department comes Miss Frances Hassett, the ever faithful, hard-working, patient teacher, who reigns a queen in the hearts of her willing subjects. She has been a teacher in Jerseyville fifteen years.
     Miss Lynn in No. 7, has given the best years of her life to the work of the school room. She commands the love and respect of all who know her work, and her filial care of her aged mother.
     Miss Sallie White, though one of the young teachers, bids fair to rival those older than herself, in her application of ways and means to arouse the better natures of the pupils.
     Miss Bertie Eaton is a favorite young teacher, and has shown herself capable and wise in school management.
     Mrs. M. F. Coxe is known to everybody; her nineteen years of earnest labor tell of her efficiency and worth.
     Miss Mamie Tyson, in No. 3, is noted for many charming qualities of heart and mind.
     Miss Annie Spencer, also a graduate and teacher, is one well fitted by a kindly disposition to rule over the little ones placed under her care. She holds her little court in No. 2, and is ever faithful to her subjects.
     Last, but not least, is Mrs. Lou Allen of the Primary. Twenty-two years of faithful care of the little “tots” is recommendation enough, and shows she holds her place by virtue of her merit. She commands the respect of all.
     Mrs. Laura Bailey, who has a position as teacher of Stenography, a new departure in the school work deserves special mention. Her work receives and merits the highest praise.
     The colored department under the able and efficient management of Prof. Oscar Dunham is moving along quietly and smoothly. The bearing of his pupils, even on playground and street, indicate his excellent discipline.


     Records show that as far back as 1880 a literary society known as the Prytaneum, was a prominent feature of our school work. It was properly organized about six years previous to this time when our worthy Principal took his position in this school. Through all these years much good has been accomplished and some talent shown. Several times the organization has gone entirely into the hands of the young men and been called “The Young Men’s Debating Club.”
     In 1891, with proceeds of several open meetings given by the society, a School Library was purchased. The library now contains about two hundred volumes and, all who are, and have been members of the High School, have access to the books.
     Within a few weeks a public oratorical contest will be given by the members of the Prytaneum. Those who have entered the contest are to prepare their own orations, and when delivered, the judges are to award the prizes according to thought, composition and delivery.
     Thus the society has grown, until now it is one of the leading features of the Jerseyville High School. – Cornelia Newton

     The Alumni Association was organized in the spring of 1878. The first banquet was held at the home of Mrs. McGready-Caldwell. Its growth suggested a stronger tie among its members, and it was regularly incorporated in 1891. It is now the only corporation of its kind in the state.
     There are two classes of members, Regular and Honorary. The possession of a diploma from the Jerseyville High School is the necessary qualification to become a regular member. (These now number 101.) The County Superintendent of Schools, the President, and members of the Board of Education and Principal of the Jerseyville Public Schools, and all the assistant teachers, that are not regular members, constitute the honorary members.
     Each year the regular members prepare a banquet and invite the graduating class as their guests. How vastly different are these banquets from those held in the infancy of the Alumni! Then these reunions were held in a private dining room, now there is not a room in Jerseyville large enough to supply the demand.
     The spirit of sociability manifested in those early meetings has never lessened but on the other hand has grown with the increasing membership, until this event is said by all to be the most sociable of the many gatherings held in Jerseyville. Sallie A. White

     There have been many changes in the schools and school laws, during the past forty years. Forty years ago the buildings were small and inconvenient. We had desks all around the room, and down the center. Each pupil furnished herself a chair. The teacher was paid by the parents. Opening exercises were singing, scripture reading and prayer. In winter we had what we called double-session. This meant only a half hour at noon, and dismissed at half past three o’clock. Our exercise was, practicing “Calisthenics.” For amusement, we played “Jackstones.” The studies were reading, arithmetic, geography, writing, commerce, grammar, history, physiology and spelling. Music and Latin were extra studies. One rule of the school was, that no pupil should be out after ten o’clock in the evening, as late hours interfered with the lessons of the next day. School days, whether of forty years ago, or of today, whether spent in the old Seminary, or in the High School, are youth’s – aye, life’s happiest days. Mrs. Sarah A. Randolph

     In 1849, Miss Virginia Corbett opened a school of sixteen pupils, in the Seminary building. During the seven years of her labors there, she had five assistants. In 1856, she was married to Mr. Isaac Harbert. The 35th anniversary of her marriage was celebrated Oct. 7, 1891, by a reunion of her old students. A banquet and reception was tendered at the Commercial Hotel. About fifty responded to the call of the old roll book. Letters were read from as many more, who were scattered over the Union. Loving tributes were paid to the schoolmates gone before. The morning following the banquet, carriages conveyed the visitors to our cemetery, where loving hands decorated the graves of those who had been their associates so long ago.
     From 1856-1871, the best of teachers continued away at the same stand. There are those among us who recall with love the names of Miss Hoppin, Miss Hall, now Mrs. Atkinson, and especially Mrs. Cutting, whose school register covered a longer experience than any other. When carried to her last resting place, a few years ago, a long line of old students were in the sad procession.
     Miss Joy, now of Mount Carroll Seminary, was the last of a line of faithful workers, before the opening of our present graded school. S. R. K.

     The first school was taught in 1834 by Miss Caroline Langdon. At an early period a good school house was built upon a portion of the Twichel farm. C. E. Wales of White Hall at one time ruled and taught here wisely and well. In 1884 the present school building was erected. It is excelled by none in the county except those of Jerseyville and Grafton. “Tis said the enterprise and worth of a community may be accurately gauged by its churches and schools. Kemper is justly proud of its school, pupils from it have passed highly creditable examinations, entering Jerseyville High School and completing its course in two years.
     Kemper Lodge I.O.O.F., and Kemper Star Rebekah Lodge are flourishing societies. There is also a prosperous camp of M. W. A.
     Thrift, energy and enterprise are characteristics of this community. Its commodious and beautiful homes are no less hospitable than pleasant. A visit among them will abundantly verify all that has been said. The fact is this little corner of Little Jersey is a goodly land fair to behold, and worthy of all praise given.

Contributed by Marty Crull and his volunteers.

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