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Jersey County Page     Jerseyville History

Jerseyville – circa 1908Main Street, Jerseyville

Court House

The first court house in Jersey County, Illinois, was built in 1840 and 1841, after the county was organized from a part of Greene County, in the year 1839. It was originally 40 feet square, and was started by subscription, but was finished by the county. The land on which it stood was laid out for a park by the original owners of the town site in 1834, but was deeded to the county by the town trustees as a site for the court house in 1839.

In 1862, an addition was built on the north side for jail purposes. The court house burned on the morning of January 6, 1884 – a very cold winter morning – and four inmates of the jail perished. The new court house was afterwares built upon the same site.

On March 2, 1892, the Board of Supervisors of Jersey County, ordered to be submitted to the voters of the county at the next November election, the proposition to issue bonds to the amount of $40,000 for the building of a new court. the vote resulted as follows:

For county bonds, 1,366; against county bonds, 977. In accordance with this vote, the Board at once proceeded to issure bonds and have the court house erected.


The Jerseyville Public Library was opened in 1895. It occupied rooms in the Chapman Building and remained there, gradually growing in size, until the gift of $10,000.00 made in 1902 by Andrew Carnegie rendered the erection of its present home possible. Mr. Carnegie later increased his gift to $12,000. Aaron T. Simmons of Bloomington drew the plans and the building was erected by the Southern Illinois Construction Company of East St. Louis. It has a front of 54 feet and a depth of 30 feet and is built of brick, faced with Bedford limestone. The basement story is of Grafton stone. The walls inside are tinted and finished in oil and the woodwork is California Birch. All the furniture is of birch also, except the book shelves which are of steel.

By the terms of Mr. Carnegie’s gift, the city is pledged to appropriate annual $1200.00 for the support of the library work. This sum pays the librarian, the caretaker and for heat and light and out of it the annual additions in the way of books are made.

The library now contains 4650 volumes, receives thirty periodicals regularly and possesses many government publications of value. It has received many valuable gifts. The basement rooms are used for club meetings. The books and the reading rooms occupy the main floor. The building, its arrangements and its furnishings are a source of pride to Jerseyville people and of admiration from all visitors.

Public School

The graded Public School system was established, in Jerseyville, with the erection of the Central School Building, in the year 1872. At that time the attendance was about four hundred, including some thirty pupils in the High School department. From 1874, when the present managements of the school began, the attendance, especially in the high school, through the admission of the non-resident pupils, increased rapidly and soon occupied two large assembly rooms.

In 1889, the present high school annex was added to the Central Building and now six rooms are occupied by this department. The course of study in the high school, consisting of four years, embrases Latin, German, higher English, general history, the sciences, higher mathematics, book-keeping, stenography and typewriting.

The first class was graduated from the high school in 1878, since which time six hundred and twenty-six young men and women, including fifty-seven from the Shorthand department, established in 1894, have received diplomas from this institution.

The receipts from non-resident students for tuition, during the past thirty-four years, amount to upwards of sixty-six thousand dollars. The enrollment in all the departments is between seven and eight hundred, and the corps of instruction consists of superintendent and fifteen teachers, who are under the control of a Board of Education composed of a president and six members.

Jacoby store

Jerseyville Store, North Main Street

This building was erected in 1891, and has a floor space of 10,000 feet, being fully equipped with such conveniences as electric lights and elevator.

The basement is used as a general storage room.

The first floor is divided as follows: Office, workshop and shipping room, and salesroom for pianos, organs, sewing machines, bed room suites, dressers, chiffoniers, sideboards, desks and kitchen cabinets, while on the second floor is found a most complete line of rockers, chairs, dressing tables, iron and brass beds, mattresses, carpets, rugs, mattings, linoleum, casket show room and stock room.

Photos and text are from a book printed by the Melling & Gaskins Ptg. Co., Alton, Il and presented as a souvenir by Jacoby Bros. to their customers in the year of 1908 and after. I happened across several copies while working for Jacoby’s in the early 70’s and was given one.

Contributed by Joe McKennon, [email protected]

Jersey County Page     Jerseyville History
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