Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bunker Hill Song - Nelson D. Sweeny

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

You can download the music sheet at the following link: Bunker Hill Song

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.

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

--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

--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

Pictured: The map of the 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.

Pictured: The Lincoln statue before the hard roads

    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

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

Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "Bunker Hill History." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, pp. 25-26. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society.

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

--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.