Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bunker Hill Song - Nelson D. Sweeny

Photo: Rev. Nelson D. Sweeny - Bunker Hill Song Author

Verse 1:
We have a splendid city with a good old fashioned name, -
A name which stirs the loyal heart with patriotic flame. -
Old Glory floats above the stand to music by our Legion Band, -
While Lincoln's statue lifts his hand, proclaiming freedom through the land. -
Our shady streets and pretty homes convince the visitor who comes,
A home in this fair city is the thing he'd like to claim. -

Verse 2:
Those stylish suits from Sessel's make you look like millionaires, -
Jacoby furnishes our homes with rugs and easy chairs, -
Gosch fits the feet with shoes so neat, Suedel has goods that can't be beat. -
Emery and Dillard's wares are sweet, Jim Highfill feeds us classy meat. -
First National's a trusty bank,
No wonder Bunker Hill takes rank,
Way up in G for that is the truth, everyone declares. -

Verse 3:
Ed Bauser's coal will warm you, so you will never get "cold feet". -
Our Creamery makes butter that we all delight to eat. -
Welch makes the groc'ry bus'ness spin, Klinefetters bargains bring them in. -
Jacobi's hardware "gets your tin", Gerdt's millinery all does win. -
Van Horn and Best, the place to treat,
Take bitter pills or sundaes sweet,
Come on lets go we have a great old town that can't be beat.

CHORUS
Bunker Hill, in good old Illinois, -
Hear the shouts of happy girls and boys. -
City of homes, churches and schools,
Sorrows depart and happiness rules.
Hooray! For the best old town in the U.S.A.
I'd like to live here forever and a day
If you want to be jolly and see a good show,
Go to the Opera House with William Fahrenkrog.
If rest and quiet is the lot you would choose,
Sit in your big arm chair and read the Gazette News, Bunker Gazette News.

Copyright 1923 by Nelson D. Sweeny, Bunker Hill, Illinois

Nelson Sweeny was born in 1868 and died in 1948.  For a time he was Minister at the Bunker Hill Methodist Church.  He was also an author.


...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 27, 2012.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Moses True - Bunker Hill's Co-Founder

Photo: Moses True - Bunker Hill's Co-Founder

Moses True was born in Salisbury, NH, August 30, 1805.  He moved to Maine in 1823 where he worked in a grocery store.  In 1828, he secured a position as captain of a canal boat in New York.

On October 11, 1831, in New Hampshire, he married Ursula Pettingill.  During the summer of 1834, Moses and Ursula decided to come west.  They came by prairie schooner from Franklin, New Hampshire to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and portage by boat down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Missouri, where they arrived on December 11, 1835.

Moses went to inspect the land which is now Bunker Hill, on December 25, 1835.  After Moses looked over the property, the following day he and John Tilden went to Edwardsville to the land office and purchased 3,000 acres of land at $2.00 an acre.  At the time, the land here was in the North West Territory and the Land Office in Edwardsville was the only place land could be purchased.  He went back to St. Louis and returned with Ursula on February 20, 1836.

Now that the land was available, True and Tilden put up a building where the weary traveler could get a meal and a nights lodging.  The stage coach route from St. Louis to Springfield, Illinois went past the tavern as it was called (not from the sale of liquor, but from a place to stay) and there was a continual flow of travelers coming and going.

Photo: Moses True Home - South Franklin St.

In 1839, the partners divided the acres purchased.  Moses took the southeast one-fouth, Luke Knowlton, the southwest one-fourth, Tilden, the northwest one-fourth, and Smith, the northeast one-fourth.  Shortly after this division, Moses built the two story brick house on South Franklin Street which had twelve rooms and a three story tower.  Moses sold the land to settlers at $3.50 per acre.

 On August 11, 1842 Ursula died.  On January 9, 1843, Moses went to New Hampshire and brought home another wife, Sarah White, who died in 1845.

In 1846, Moses married Nancy Clark of St. Louis.  From this marriage there was one child, a son, James Clark True.  Nancy True died in October 11, 1875.

In 1876, Moses married Betsy George.  After some discussion, Betsy told Moses that she would marry him if he could send his son to some other location.  James Clark True was 30 years old and Betsy was 38 years old and it seemed to her that they were too close to the same age to be living in the same home.  On February 3, 1877, a daughter, Mary George True was born.  Moses True died on February 22, 1878.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 20, 2012.   

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Hard Road Through Bunker Hill



When the first homesteaders came to Bunker Hill, there were no roads as we think of them today.  You would just go out in the direction of your destination and go across country.  Over time, certain paths and trails were more heavily traveled and became the early roads.  There was no organized maintenance of these roads.  In dry weather, the dust was six to eight inches deep and in wet weather getting stuck in the mud was inevitable.  After many years of traveling this way, residents of the community began to complain.

The town council, for the purpose of keeping streets, alleys, and highways in repair, was authorized and empowered to require every able bodied male over twenty-one years of age and under fifty to labor on streets, any number of days not exceeding three in each year.

When the practice of oiling roads started, the neighbors would chip in and oil the roads.  This job was not done mechanically, but was done by manual labor.  In 1923, the city began to oil the streets.  The roads and city streets were very messy and the oil ran off the dust like water.

In 1925, Senator A. Cuthbertson, who was a former merchant and resident of Bunker Hill, initiated the idea of a hard road to the area that would replace the old stage coach road running north and south through town.



The road work started in Bunker Hill in 1927.  One problem that had arisen was that the state wanted to take the Lincoln Statue out when the road was put in, however, popular sentiment won out and the road was built around the statue instead.

Workers who helped on the road used over one hundred mules to haul materials to construct the foundation.  After the foundation was finished, the concrete was poured and smoothed.

In 1928, there was a big celebration to celebrate the opening of the hard road.  The old stage coach that had run the route through here on the Springfield and St. Louis route from 1822-1850 was brought here from Edwardsville for the celebration.

The final touches were made and the new Route 112 was finished in the early 1930's.  A few years after the route was completed, the hard road's name was changed to Route 159.  The highway is still a two-lane road as it has been for eighty plus years, but has been resurfaced and widened to fit present day needs.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 13, 2012.   

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wolf Ridge to Bunker Hill


Pictured: Artist Sketch of Wolf Ridge - Now Bunker Hill


    If you had been one of those early settlers back in 1835-1836, the landscape would be very different.  You could stand at the top of the "hill" between what is now the flagpole and the Lincoln Statue, look in any direction, and see nothing but wide open prairie.  There might have been two or three buildings in the town, but the only trees would be far in the distance along the creek banks.

    There were those who claimed you could look off to the northeast and not see a tree between here and Bayless Point, which was in the vicinity of Dorchester, just the prairie grass was covering the plains being blown by a breeze giving the appearance of waves on the ocean.

    The site of the town of Bunker Hill was once known to the early settlers of Macoupin County as "Wolf Ridge".  It was thus named because wolves lived in the area.  Some of their dens were located in the vicinity where United Community Bank and Dr. Belcher's office are - on the SE corner of N. Washington and Fayette Street.

    The choice of the name, Bunker Hill, was not due to the existence of any great elevation, but rather to the fact that there is a hill here somewhat like that upon which the famous battle of the Revolution was fought and because those who gave the name came from a section of country in which Bunker Hill was familiar and held in great reverence.

Pictured: The Bunker Hill Indian Trail Historical Marker located at Mae Whitaker Park

    The earliest inhabitants of the community of whom we have any knowledge were the Peoria, Kickapoo, and Winnebago Indians, who established an encampment near North Washington Street and West Morgan Street.  Another location was northeast of Bunker Hill near the Millville School area.

    On their wandering north and south, they were accustomed to stopping here near a large spring for water, but with the advent of the white settlers, the red men disappeared and the last of them were seen was in the year 1826 when five wigwams, which stood at the head of the Wood River, were pulled down and they left for the country farther west.



Pictured: Artist Sketch of the Springs - Indian Watering Place, now Millville


...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 6, 2012.

--Cite this story: Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "Bunker Hill History." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, 5. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Bunker Hill Telephone Company - 1898

Photo: Switchboard Operator - Loretta Bartels

The Bunker Hill Telephone Company 
The Bunker Hill Telephone Co. was organized by Charles Drew and James Jencks on April 13, 1898, with eleven stockholders and a capital of $2,500.00.  Later the capital stock was increased to $15,000.00.

Some of the eleven stockholder in the Bunker Hill Telephone Co. were: James Jencks, C. E. Drew, S. N. Sanford, Wm. Dickie, C. J. Jacoby, Max Sessel John Neil, Adolph Bumann, and Mrs. Wm. Dickie.


Over the next few month there was a large increase in the number of subscribers.  In August, 1900, the phone company put in a new switchboard, which brought the capacity of the new exchange up to 100 phones.

About December 1, 1928, the Bunker Hill Telephone Co., including the property was sold to the Community Telephone Co. of Chicago for $18,000.00.  This company also owned the Carlinville, Gillespie, Virden, and Girard exchanges as well as 49 other telephone properties in the state.  They also had interest in a number of waterworks systems.



The telephone operators in 1955 were: Doris Miller, Loretta Bartels, Melba Allen, Etta Goodhaus, Jeanette Thorpe, Gertrude Emery and Barbara Girth.


The local telephone office was located where Sally's Cafe is now.  It closed in 1955 when General Telephone switched to the dial system.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "City Growth." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, 24. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society.

The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, November 28, 2012.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Wood Cemetery


The cemetery is located two and three quarters miles south of Woodburn.  Land was acquired in 1832 during President Jackson's administration.  First burials were possibly members of a wagon train of which cholera claimed many lives.  Several generations of Wood and Davis families are interred in the oldest section.  There are approximately two and a half acres in this cemetery.


Gazette News: August 1, 1957:
The Wood Cemetery is one of the oldest places in Bunker Hill Township.  The man who gave the land was David Bush Wood, who was born in 1813, the son of James E. Wood, Sr. and Susannah Renfro Wood, early settlers of Illinois Territory and Bunker Hill Township.

In the year 1842, David B. Wood purchased the farmland of Aksiah Tompkins.  On this land were a number of graves, including David's sisters' grave who was buried in 1823.  Mr. Wood had in transfer of land two deeds made, one for one (1) acre where the graves were, to Bunker Hill Township as a burial ground.  In 1905 or 1906, Alfred C. Wood, on leaving Illinois, deeded one-half acre to this cemetery and it was named in honor of his family and the Wood families he had inherited land from.  

He migrated to South Dakota, then to Nebraska.  He died there at the age of 91 years and nine months.  His remains were brought back here and buried on the land of his childhood.  The two deeds of this land are recorded in the courthouse in Carlinville.

Some of the pioneer families buried there are :Wood, Davis, Coffee, Scott, Heyde, Hook, Kneadeline, Gregg, Thomae, Hill, Hilyard, Ridgley, Saltznear, Schuetz, Johnson, Jacobi, Pyatt, and many others.

This cemetery was cared for by members of some of the families buried there since 1842.  Many of these people were prominent in early Macoupin County history.  Prior to 1955, Dr. Walter Hilyard donated enough to build a new fence and others donated to put the cemetery in nice order.

Some of the people buried there are veterans from early Indian, Revolutionary, French and Indian, Civil and World War I.

Some of the markers are made by hand of sandstone and the markings on some are completely obliterated.  We are endeavoring to place all war veterans on the honor roll of this cemetery and their country. 

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, November 22, 2012, April 23,2020

Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "Bunker Hill History." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, p. 125. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coal Mines of Bunker Hill

Pictured: Map of Bunker Hill Coal Mines

    On Monday afternoon October 31, 1870, Mr. John Naylor and Mr. John McPherson secured the services of the Band which proceeded the first wagon loaded with 30 bushels of coal mined.  The gun squad shot the cannon.  They stopped at the corner of Washington and Warren streets.  Mr. Yancy and Mr. Hayes gave talks.  Mr. Jencks then sold the coal realizing $89.  The coal was purchased in turn by Mr. S. Hale, $20; Joseph Meyers, $10; Mr. W. Cross, $10; Bartels and Brother, $7; Thomas Sanders, $6; W. Dorey, $10; David Morris, $5; Joe Lee, $10; Thomas Sanders, $5; and Mr. Frederickson, $6.  Each purchaser then turned back the coal to be sold again until $89 was realized.

    A grand banquet was given underground in the coal mine to which all the prominent people were invited.  Mr. Naylor retired in 1875 and two years later Mr. McPherson retired.  The mine was abandoned in October 1880.  It employed 12 men and the production for the nine months of 1880 was 61,029 bushels.  The mine was located along Paddock Creek, east of town and south of the bridge.

    William Neil & Co., broke ground for a shaft near the railroad track in the northeast part of town in may 1879, and in September, reached a vein of coal at a depth of 250 feet.  They were producing 600 bushels a day.  The members of this firm were Mr. William Peter, Mr. John Neil and James Monoghan.  This mine burned in 1907 and was rebuilt and worked until 1912 when it was discontinued.

    The Wood River Coal Mine, also known as Crow Hollow Mine, west of town, close by the old reservoir, was owned by Judge Huggins and operated by Matt Carroll.  It had an annual output of 45,000 bushels in 1881 and $1800 was paid out in wages.  There was another mine located in that area by the name of Raynor and Lock.  It operated from 1881-1889. 

    The Bauser-Truesdale Mine was sunk on the Bauser place.  This was located along Paddock Creek, east of town and north of the bridge.  In 1906 Mr. Ed Bauser took charge until October 1934 when it was leased by the former employees, who ran it as a co-operative.  The first four years the coal was mined by hand.  Some years later, it was electrified and was cut with machines.  This mine operated until 1940.

    The Jarden Coal Mine was located off Catholic Springs Road, before the bridge over Paddock Creek.  This mine was operated by Jarden and Lansford in 1903, E. Lansford and Co. 1903-1904, Fritz Jarden 1904-1911 and Abbott Jarden 1911-1913.  It was abandoned in 1914.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, November 14, 2012, April 16, 2020

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Memorial Flagpole


Gazette News: February 10, 1955
The Legion committee in charge of erecting a memorial flagpole on the main street announced this week they are short of the required amount to complete the job by $261.91.

The bids for the job are all in and a contract for the erection of it was awarded to Joe Briskovich on a bid of $349.  Further cost will include $15 for an 8x12 flag, $597 for the flagpole, $75 for a bronze plaque and $60 for freight.  Total contributions to date are $879.09.

The flagpole itself will be a 35-foot tapered aluminum job with equipoise tilting unit, and 24-inch wingspan gold leaf eagle atop the pole and a copper weathervane.  There will be an aluminum ball bearing a revolving truck for the flag.

This is a final appeal for funds by the committee.  Anyone who has not donated and wishes to may still do so; anyone who cares to donate more than he already has may still do so.  The memorial will be one the city can be proud of.  It will be dedicated to those who served their country in all wars and to those who gave the supreme sacrifice.  Bunker Hill has its full share of both and can be well proud of both.

Gazette News: June 2, 1955
Workman finished the job of installing the memorial flagpole last Thursday afternoon and the flag was flying from the pole on Friday.  Bill Wise, chairman of the committee, informs us that donations are still needed in spite of a total of $1003.09 received.
The bronze plaque reads:
IN MEMORY
OF
THOSE WHO
SERVED OUR
COUNTRY
ERECTED IN 1955

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, November 8, 2012.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Monument House Hotel

The Monument House
 was located in the northwest block of Fayette and Clinton Streets.


An expanded story about the Monument Hotel is on my latest March 12, 2020 posting which can be read at:  https://bunkerhillhistory.blogspot.com/2020/03/monument-house-bunker-hills-grand-hotel.html

The Monument House was built by Mr. William H. Carroll in 1856, soon after the completion of what was then known as the Terre Haute and Alton Railroad.  Mr. Carroll's original plans were to erect a railroad eating house.  Before the work was completed, he decided to build more extensively and he erected the third story front to which the billiard room was afterward added, Mr. Carroll doing much of the work himself.

The Monument House was opened to the public in September of 1856 and Dr. Delano was the first to inscribe his name upon the register as the first guest.  Dr. Delano named the hotel for Mr. Carroll.





Until 1866 or 1867, the Terre Haute and Alton was the only direct route east out of St. Louis.  Travel was simply enormous, especially during the Civil War and most trains stopped at the Monument House for meals.  Mr. Carroll and his wife were unrivaled caterers and under their management, the Monument House was as famous throughout the country as the famed eating house at Altoona, Pennsylvania on the Pennsylvania Railroad.

After Mr. Carroll's death, the hotel was leased by several parties in succession and was finally purchased in 1871 by Mr. Ben Johnson.

Monument House Burns
Mr. Ben Johnson, owner of Monument House, thought the fire must have caught from the dining room chimney.  He said the building was worth $5,000, and the stock and fixtures worth $300.  The fire which completely destroyed this old landmark was discovered by an engineer on a freight train Sunday morning, December 31, 1884.  Conductors Jackson and Kreppes, with their train crew, did good service at the fire.

Gazette News: January 9, 1884
The Fire company made a brave effort. With the mercury at 15 degrees below zero, the men suffered severely, and then were unable to accomplish what could have been done in more favorable weather.  

The Monument House was located in the northwest block of Fayette and Clinton Streets.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, November 1, 2012.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bunker Hill Military Academy


Among the institutions which Bunker Hill once boasted was the Military Academy (in the very early days called the Seminary) and stood on grounds, which is today the American Legion Park.  It opened in 1859.

Its history dates back to December 22, 1857.  On that date, a meeting was held "to take measures looking forward to the establishment of an academic school."  E. Harlan was chairman and W. Hutchinson was secretary.  The following committee was appointed: A. Ellet, P. Huggins, J. Weller, T. Van Dorn.  On the building committee was E. Howell, G. Mack, G. Parmenter, J. Delano, and E. Davis.  Later, Dr. Delano withdrew and H. Hopper was substituted.  On January 26, a constitution was adopted.  The amount of capital stock was fixed at $25,000.  P. Huggins offered to donate a four-acre lot for the building.

The building was brick, three stories high, and considered substantial in every way.  In its original state, it had three rooms on the first floor, five on the second, and the third floor was a large hall.  It was said to have cost about $19,000.

At the first call for volunteers in the Civil War, Professor Smith and 39 of the pupils entered the army.  Others soon followed and it became necessary to close the school.  The building was then loaned to the school district and used a public school for several years, or until the new public school was opened in 1869.


Samuel Stiver became the owner and proprietor of the academy in 1887.  Under his guidance, the institution attracted many young men from other states as well as several foreign countries, who for the most part, lived on the grounds.  Many Bunker Hill young men and women also attended the school.  Much of the success was attributed to a well-organized advertising program.




Cadets at the academy also engaged in the popular sports of the time including baseball, football, gymnastics, tennis and track.  They also had drills and competition in handling of firearms.

Mr. Stiver passed away in 1910 and the academy was taken over by Mr. Marburger.  After failure to operate the school successfully as far as finances were concerned, it was decided to close the school in 1913.

After being threatened with foreclosure, the association decided to sell the property at auction.  James Jencks purchased the academy grounds, the H. Meyer property, T. Mulligan's, and the ballpark ground on October 18, 1916.  He sold some of the buildings and finally tore down the main building.

Jencks later sold the grounds to the Civic League of Bunker Hill and they built a park there, which they maintained until 1948, when all the buildings were destroyed by the tornado.  The grounds were then taken over they the American Legion and they maintain a park there.



...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, October 24, 2012.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jacoby Brothers



On October 23, 1883, Casper J. Jacoby moved to Bunker Hill and embarked in the furniture and undertaking business, several years later adding carpets, wallpaper, pianos, organs, and sewing machines, a business which was destined to grow until it established for him a reputation known and respected throughout the surrounding country.  Starting with little capital and practically a stranger, young Jacoby, by that honesty and fair dealing which has always characterized the business methods of the firm, soon established himself as a successful businessman.


In March of 1891, Casper, in order to get suitable employment for the two younger brothers, William C. and Louis C., founded a corporation name of Jacoby Brothers.  The corporation consisted of Phillip W., Henry C., Casper J., and William C. Jacoby.  Rev. Phillip W. Jacoby, the oldest brother, died in St. Louis in 1899.

On April 10, 1899, Casper J. purchased the furniture and undertaking business of Bauer & Co., and August Miller, located in Alton.  Business then conducted in Alton was carried on under the name of C. J. Jacoby & Co.   On Casper J.'s removal to Alton, he sold the Bunker Hill store to Jacoby Bros., Jerseyville, as a branch of same and William C. was made manager of the Bunker Hill store and Louis C., the manager of the Jerseyville store.


The Bunker Hill store was erected in 1893, and was destroyed by fire March 15, 1899, but was rebuilt at once.  The building was 30x100 feet, two story, and basement, with a total floor space of 9,000 feet.  The store was located on the east side of Washington Street.

 ...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, October 18, 2012.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rigby Horse RaceTrack


Mr. Thomas S. Rigsby came to Bunker Hill after he served in the Civil War.  He began his business as a dealer in and trainer of horses.  On the outskirts of the city were large barns and a half mile race track.  This track was supposed to be one of the best in the State of Illinois.

From all over Illinois, he received horses which he trained to race.  Many of these horses won premiums at fairs in Illinois and Missouri.

Gazette News June 25, 1885: A trotting match is to take place on the Davis Track next Saturday for a purse of $50.  The entries are: Jencks' "Pacer Boy" and Rigsby's "Jesse James."

Gazette News July 10, 1889: Among the horses entered in the Fourth of July trot at Alton was "Billy Logan" entered and driven by its trainer, Tom Rigby, of Bunker Hill.

Gazette News January 8, 1890: Thomas Rigby has bought from D. E. Pettingill the 20-acre tract west of the Nutter place, and will convert it into one of the best speeding tracks of its size which can be found in the state.

Gazette News August 6, 1890: Encouraged by the success of a fort-night age, our local horsemen have announced a series of trotting and running races on the really excellent Rigsby track west of town on Saturday next.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, October 11, 2012.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Old Huber Opera House

Photo: Huber Opera House
    Andrew Huber had the grand opening of his Clothier and Dry Good Store on Saturday, November 11, 1882 in the Huber Opera House.  He carried clothing, boots and shoes, groceries, glassware, carpet, and many other items.

    As early as 1891, the Bunker hill High School graduation exercises were held there and continued on through the 1930's.

    In 1921, William Fahrenkrog bought the Huber Opera House and renamed it to the Bunker Hill Opera House.  It was remodeled and used as a movie theater, being called the Lincoln Theater.  Upstairs was a gymnasium and it was called Lincoln Hall.  Helen (Fahrenkrog) Teakert played the piano for the Lincoln Theater.  There were other businesses in the Opera House such as a drug store, pool hall, barber shop, and a jewelry store.

    During the 1948 tornado, the second story was blown off.  This building was occupied by Behrens Drug Store for many years.  Today it is the home of Thru a Lens Photography.
Photo: March 19, 1948 Tornado damage.

 ...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, October 4, 2012.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lighting from Lamplighters to Electricity


Photo: Bunker Hill Electric Light Plant, west side of Putnam at Morgan St.

Twenty-five street lamps were purchased in October of 1876.  The first Bunker Hill lamplighter was Thomas Larmer, who was awarded the contract to light and take care of the lights at 70 cents a lamp.  Eddie Carroll was a lamplighter at one time, and John Brandenburger was lighting and caring for street lights in September of 1879.  The lights were on posts and the lamplighter carried a short ladder with him as he made his rounds to light the lamps.  At 11 p.m. each evening he went around again, climbing up the ladder and blowing out each light.

On January 6, 1892, the City Council met to hear an electric light agent talk about installing a lighting system for Bunker Hill.  They discussed the possibility of the city purchasing a light plant or of drawing up a lighting contract with a company.  The system was to be purchased and controlled by the City Council at an estimated cost of about $12, 000 to $15,000.

The business portion of the city was to be lit by electricity by August 19, 1896.  The work was to be done by the Bunker Hill Foundry and Machine Works, under the direction of Mr. John R. Richards.

During the last week of September 1896, the incandescent lamps for the subscribing business houses arrived.  The night the lights were turned on throughout the entire circuit, giving the places illumined a handsome appearance.

An election was held in June of 1898 for the issuing of $7,000 in bonds for the building and operating of an electric light plant to be operated by the city.  The issue carried by a small majority of 116 to 92.  By November 29, 1898, the new electric light plant was ready and the lights were lit at 5 o'clock.  Bunker Hill was now illuminated every night!


By January 1899, the work of stringing the wires for lighting the residences was progressing as rapidly as the weather would permit and it was expected that by the first of the month those who desired to have their homes lit by electricity would have it.  Four hundred lights were estimated to be put in residences in 1899.  It was the cheapest and most convenient light a person could have in his home at the time.  After February 1st, the plant was to run the incandescent current all night.  There was no electricity at night before this time because the plant did not run at night.

The plant was located on Morgan Street on the west side of Putnam street junction behind Baker's feed store.  Ed Marth was the engineer at the electric plant.  Abbie Landon's father, George, was a fireman and Abbie's uncle cleaned ashes out of the boiler room.  A large concrete pond behind the plant supplied water to the steam boiler and generators.   If any malfunction occurred in the system due to lightning, ice on lines, or other causes, the system was maintained by Bill Baker, a local electrical lineman and electrician.  When a large transformer near the plant was blown out by lightning, Bill Baker could be seen in raincoat and boots fixing the transformer.  Many improvements were made as the years progressed.

On January 10, 1952, the Bunker Hill City Council voted unanimously in favor of installing a new street lighting system in the uptown business area.  The proposal was presented by the Illinois Power Company in conjunction with General Electric Company.  The system would provide white incandescent lights with steel, concrete or wooden poles (whichever was available) to be installed to hold the lights.  On streets feeding into the main stem, wooden poles would be used.  

The city street lighting committee placed an order for 46 new street lights on Tuesday, January 24, to be installed in the uptown area by the IPC.  the power company was to secure all materials for the project and would own and maintain the system after installation.  The city was to be billed monthly for the lights.

In order to extend the project considerably from the original plans, a number of lights were paid for by churches and other institutions. The Congregational, Methodist, Lutheran, and Baptist churches each paid for one light, the school paid for two lights, and the Bunker Hll Vault and Monument Works, the First National Bank, and the Commercial Club each took responsibility for one.  With these organizations standing the cost of extra lights, the system expanded considerably from the 28 considered in the original plans.

The lights were to extend on Washington Street from Fensterman's Garage to the Condensary corner.  On Warren street, the light extended east to the Lutheran Church and three lights on West Warren; and on Fayette Street east to the Masonic Temple and three lights on West Fayette.  There were two additional lights on the street past the Baptist Church and two on the north and south street past the Congregational Church.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story:  Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "City Growth." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, 23-24. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society.

The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, September 27, 2012.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Railroad Train to Bunker Hill



A major influence on the growth of Bunker Hill was the decision to run the railroad through Bunker Hill.  In 1851, ten years before the outbreak of the Civil war, the only mode of transportation in Bunker Hill was by stage coach, wagon, or horse over poorly constructed roads.





In the winter of 1852 and the year of 1853, the first work was done on the new railroad.  The railroad was completed in 1854 and the first train came up from Alton loaded with steel rails and ties for the railroad.  They call the first train the Tiger, and described it as resembling a threshing machine engine with the smoke stack on the back of the engine.


Photo: Lee and Arthur Sutton - Mail Clerks
 
 The first passenger train came through Bunker Hill in August 1855, bringing the officials of the railroad company along.  The decision to run the Indianapolis and St. Louis Railroad through this city made the difference between Woodburn and Bunker Hill, as it brought growth and prosperity to Bunker Hill, while Woodburn remained much in its original condition.  The bringing in of new industry, modern improvements in housing facilities and  an easy means of transportation and travel was the cause of our city growing to be one of the largest towns in the county during the first 50 years of progress.


 One hundred and forty-five years ago trains were not only the source of travel, but of news as well.  Who arrived and departed from the local depot made news, and the local editor made it a point to be at the depot at train time.  the train time of the St. Louis, Alton, and Terre Haute Railroad was listed in the first issue of the Gazette, January 19, 1866.



From the Gazette News October 12, 1900: A goodly number of people came to town last Monday evening in response to advertising that Governor Theodore Roosevelt of New York, a Republican candidate for Vice President of the United Stated, would be in Bunker Hill that evening.  the largest number present at the depot was 450 to 500.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, September 20, 2012.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Bunker Hill Bandstand


Photo: Bunker Hill's Bandstand

This is a picture of the bandstand which stood in Bunker Hill where the flagpole now stands at the intersection of Warren and Washington Streets.  The Bunker Hill Museum has the bronze plaque which says it was donated by Mr. and Mrs. C. J. Jacoby in 1923.  The bandstand was destroyed by the 1948 tornado.  An April 28, 1955, the present Memorial Flag Pole was installed at the intersection.


Photo: The bandstand after the 1948 tornado


...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/
 
 --Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, September 13, 2012.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Indiana Condensed Milk Company


Photo: The Indiana Condensed Milk Company

The Indiana Condensed Milk Company of Indianapolis, IN, purchased the Bunker Hill Condensing company in March 1924.  Bunker Hill was Plant No. 6 according to the sign on the building, which was on North Washington Street.  This is where the new duplex apartments are located now.  Benezette N. Wilson, whose father and uncle founded the company, was the manager of the Bunker Hill plant for a number of years.

Arthur "Babe" Welch began working at the Condensery for thirty cents an hour in 1933 and worked there until 1952.  John Heuer began working there in 1937 and was there when it closed in 1953.





During the spring of the year, some 100,000 pounds of milk a day was received.  Long lines of wagons and trucks were on the highway waiting to unload.  Farmers took turns taking their milk and their neighbor's milk to town .  During this busy time, the Condensery operated seven days a week.





After going through several stages, the evaporated milk was canned and the royal blue label, Wilson Evaporated Milk, was attached.  It was packed 48 cans to a case and loaded on freight cars.  If a chain of stores ordered the evaporated milk, their label would be put on the can in place of the Wilson label.



The water used in the plant was piped across town from the dammed up portion of the creek on the northeast part of town.  The waste was dumped back into the creek on the southeast part of town.  This caused quite an odor.

During World War II, the plant was under military supervision.  The milk was put in khaki colored cans and sent to the troops.  A Corporal did duty here and once a month, and an inspector from the Army would come also for inspection.

A lot of women worked during the war because of the shortage of men.  Some of the work was hard and hot, especially when freight cars of coal had to be unloaded in the summer.  Men were paid bonuses to unload coal cars after working hours.  The supply of cans from railroad cars was unloaded into the second story by the women, which also was a very hot job.









Newspaper Article - Feb. 6, 1931

February 6, 1931: Three members of the Commercial Club of Bunker Hill would confer with officials of the Indiana Condensed Milk Co. of Indianapolis on the closing of its "condensery".  The members were club President Carl Williams, Charles E. Drew and R. H. Hayes.  The trio would make every effort to keep it from closing.  The local operation had 25 employees.



Newspaper Article: July 23, 1953 - Indiana Condensed Milk Closes Plant
July 23, 1953: The local plant of the Indiana Condensed Milk Company will cease operations here on August 1, according to a notice to all employees and patrons which was posted this (Thursday) morning at the plant.  The notice reads as follows: After several years of a low milk supply at Bunker Hill, we reached a conclusion the fore part of this month that there is not now and is not likely to be in the future a milk supply adequate to permit the efficient operation of an Evaporated Milk Plant at this location...

...Twenty three men are presently employed by the Indiana Condensed Milk Company since 1924.  Most of the men are long time employees average being 48 with only four men being under 40.





...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at https://bunkerhillhistory.org/

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, September 6, 2012. 

Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "Bunker Hill History." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, p. 136. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society.

--Provided by The Bunker Hill Historical Society