Thursday, December 10, 2015

History of the Bunker Hill IL Post Office

Pictured: The present-day Bunker Hill Post Office

    What is known as the Bunker Hill Post Office was established in 1833, under the name of Lincoln.  It was located on a farm one mile south of town, land later occupied by I. A. Smith in 1885.  There is some discrepancy as to who was the first postmaster.  An article in the December 3, 1885 issue of the Bunker Hill Gazette names Anthony Linder as the first postmaster.  Then Centennial edition of the Gazette names John Wilson or John Lunderman.  (See more about the Lincoln Post under blog "True and Tilden's Folly" at )

Pictured: Bunker Hill's first Post Office, Lincoln

    In 1837, Lincoln failed to materialize as a town, and the office was moved to Bunker Hill, but retained its former name.  Josiah Richards then acted as Postmaster.  In the following year, on petition, the name of the post office was changed to Bunker Hill, and Nathaniel Phillips was appointed its first postmaster.

    (Excerpt from the 1911 "History of Macoupin County (pg. 360) states "Anthony Linder was succeeded by a Mr. Cook, , while in 1837, Samuel Buell took charge of the office.  In November of the latter year, the Post Office was transferred to Bunker Hill.  Nathaniel Phillips was the first postmaster appointed after the removal of the office to Bunker Hill.  Josiah Richards then acted as assistant.  In 1837, a post office was also established in Woodburn")

    Mr. Phillips served until his death in 1845, when Judge Philander C. Huggins took charge and removed the office from its location on the lot north of the Congregational Church to his store on the side of George Drew's building on Washington Street.

Pictured: People traveling to Bunker Hill via Stage Coach

    In those days, mail was carried by coaches on the St. Louis and Chicago Stage Line.  The stage arrivals were very irregular and it was no infrequent occurrence for the postmaster to be gotten out at any hour after midnight to change mail.

    Judge Philander C. Huggins held the office about two years when Edward H. Davis succeeded him and removed the business to the "Old Tavern".  About a year later, David Wright circulated a petition asking the appointment of Judge Huggins, and the office was moved back into that gentleman's store building.

Pictured: Railroad Mail Clerks, Lee and Arthur Sutton

    During the term of office, the Alton and Terre Haute Railroad was built and a better mail service was established.  (See "The Big Four Station" blog post at: and "Lee and Arthur Sutton - Railroad Clerks" - )

    In 1856, Judge Philander C. Huggins accepted a legislative nomination and resigned his position.  He was succeeded by Deacon Noah Flanigan, who held the office until the end of Lincoln's administration.

    About the close of the Civil War, Mr. Flanigan was succeeded by E. Atchinson, who served until 1868, followed by Edward H. Davis.  As soon as General Grant was elected president, Mr. Atchinson was reinstated in the summer of 1869.

    In 1872, Mr. Atchinson resigned and was succeeded by F. Y. Hedley.  In November of 1885, T. J. Carroll was appointed.  The following is a list of postmasters following Mr. Carroll:  
  • F. Y. Hedley - September 28, 1889
  • J. S. Klinefelter - October 20, 1893
  • William P. Dickie - January 20, 1898
  • M. M. Brown - February 1913
  • J. H. Truesdale - February 1922
  • Charles M. Jacobi - June 23, 1932
  • Ed A. Bauser - July 1, 1936 (or June 23, 1936*)
  • Edna A. Bauser (Acting Postmaster) - March 5, 1940*
  • Edna A. Bauser - October 10, 1940* (also see "Bunker Hill's Youngest Postmaster", )
  • M. L. Kohlenberg (Officer-in-Charge) - August 25, 1972*
  • William E. Vaughn, November 25, 1972*
  • David A. Wolf (Officer-in-Charge) - May 27, 1994*
  • David A. Wolf - June 11, 1994*
  • Lisa M. Pierce (Officer-in-Charge) - November 22, 2013*
  • Lisa Pierce - April 5, 2014*
...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 10, 2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Remote Tombstone Connected with the History of Goodnight Trail in Texas

When Willis Wolff, Sr. bought his farm southeast of Bunker Hill in 1938, he was aware of a small one grave cemetery on the property, but didn't learn the full significance of the grave in Texas history until later.

The grave holds the remains of Charles Goodnight, Sr., the father of a man, who went on to become one of the richest cattlemen of the Old West, making his mark as a strong minded, demanding but fair dealing man, who was part of this historic Goodnight-Loving Trail.

Charles Goodnight, Sr., and his wife, Charlotte, moved from Kentucky to Madison County, Illinois in 1828 and crossed over into Macoupin County, where he bought a farm.

Charlie Goodnight, Jr. was born March 5, 1838, one of four children born before Charles, Sr. died in 1840.

The weather worn monument of Charles Goodnight Sr. is enclosed in an iron fence, which is in surprisingly good condition in spite of a tall pine tree, and the effect of cattle in the grazing area of the Wolff farm.

Goodnight Sr.'s wife remarried shortly thereafter and the family moved by covered wagon to Milam County, Texas.  Young Charlie was nine years old and made the journey bareback on a white faced mare named Blaze.

Charlotte Goodnight and her second husband divorced not long after that and Charlie and his older brother, Elijah, went to work for a local merchant for $4 a month.

Charlie was initiated into cattle ranching after his mother married Adam Sheek in 1853.  In addition to his expertise in cattle, he became a tracker of hostile Indians.  After serving in the confederate States War, he resumed cattle ranching.

History books state the fact of the Goodnight-Loving Trail, a previously unheard of journey in which Charlie and Oliver Loving and 18 hands attempted to drive 2,000 cattle from Fort Belknap, Texas to Denver, Colorado.  They made it through with enough of the cattle to give them $12,000 in gold to take back to Texas.  Loving was injured by a Comanche Indian attack during the trail ride and died from complications shortly thereafter.

The story of Charlie's survival is interlaced with his accomplishments: he is credited with inventing the side saddle, creating the chuck wagon, developing a bed tarp, and adapting stirrups and ropes and other gear.

In later years, he and his wife, Mary Ann, opened Goodnight College, one of the pioneer educational institutions of west Texas, and they also built two churches.  Mary Ann died in 1926, and a year later, on his 91st birthday, Charlie married Corrine Goodnight, a distant cousin, with whom he lived for three years before dying December 12, 1929.  Charlie is buried next to his first wife, Mary Ann, in the Goodnight Cemetery near Amarillo, Texas.

Little would Charlie Goodnight Sr. have dreamed that his own son would become a a "cattleman, pioneer, cowboy, trailblazer, Indian fighter, and Texan", a man with no children, but one who left a heritage of undeniable importance to historians across the nation.

Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, "Lonesome Dove" is a fictionalized account of Goodnight and Loving's third cattle drive.  Woodrow F. Call represents Goodnight and Augustus McCrae is Loving.  "Lonesome Dove" is the winner of seven Emmy Awards and is one of the highest rated mini-series in television.

Several books, songs, poetry, and the mini-series have been written about Charlie Goodnight:
In 1935, Laura Vernon Hammer published a novelized biography of Charlie, "The No-Gun Man of Texas".
The western novelist Matt Braun's novel "Texas Empire" is based on the life of Goodnight.
The song "The Goodnight-Loving Trail" by Utah Philips.
The songwriter Andy Wilkinson wrote "Charlie Goodnight, His Life in Poetry and Song".
Mari Sandoz's "Old Jules County"
In James A. Michener's book "Centennial, the Skimmerhorn Trail" is based on the actual Goodnight-Loving Trail.
Ralph Compton's novel, "The Goodnight Trail".

...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, October 1, 2015.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Bunker Hill Brick Plant

From the Bunker Hill Gazette, November 30, 1898:

The Bunker Hill Brick Plant stood on the south side of Alton Street adjoining Meehan's Plaza and possibly some ground on the north side.

When Charlotte and Art Thyer bought the property in 1987, there was still part of the old kiln in the basement of the house.  There is a brick basement wall with the date May 26, 1899 and the name John Herbst scratched into it.

A brick in the old carriage house is marked, built in 1910.  The patio is made out of six inch square bricks, one having the date of August 19, 1899.  There are several bricks with the Star of David imprinted on them.  One brick in the sidewalk has the initials J. H..  The carriage house had room for the buggy on one side and on the other side was a place for the horse.  There is a display of bricks from the old Herbst Brick Factory at the museum, donated by Charlotte Thyer.

From the Bunker Hill / Woodburn History Book, March 6, 1889:
Another brick maker in Bunker Hill was Frank Lancaster.  Mr. Lancaster came to this country from England in 1841.  He was the pioneer brick maker in this place, if not in the county.  The first year he was here, he made the bricks for the old Congregational Church.  he then made 50,000 bricks for a massive chimney for the "Old Red Mill".  He also made the bricks for the Bunker Hill Military Academy, and bricks for the stores in the business area.

NOTE: Read more info about Francis Lancaster at

...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, August 13, 2015, March 12, 2015.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Francis Lancaster - A Portrait and Biographical Record

Info provided by Portrait and Biographical Record of Macoupin County, 1891

Mr. Lancaster was among the British-American citizens of Macoupin County.  He was a successful, practical farmer, and progressive stock raiser, who lived on a fine farm in Bunker Hill Township.  The tract was comprised of 800 acres, most of which was in a fine state of improvement.  He had owned and lived on the homestead since 1848, and procured most of the land when it was in its unbroken state.

Mr. Lancaster came to the United States in 1841, voyaging on a three mast sailor, the "Ontario", landing in New York City, March 7.  Three years later, he was able to send for his wife and children, whom he had left at the old home.

Our subject was born August 7, 1813, in Buckinghamshire, England.  His father was Joseph Lancaster, a brick maker and fruit dealer by occupation.  His mother was Harriet (Daveny) Lancaster.  She became the mother of 14 children, and four of her sons came to the United States.

After he became of age, he married Miss Elizabeth Collins, who was born in 1812 in the same shire.  He learned the trade of brick making.  She was the mother of 10 children.  Frank married Miss Caroline Hooker; William married Miss Mary Hovey; Elizabeth married Mr. Henry Wise; Mary married Mr. Asoph Barnes; John married Miss Hannah Parmenter; Matilda married Mr. Joseph Barnes; and Joseph married Miss Mary Parmenter.  Harriet and Albert passed away when young and an infant passed away unnamed.

This valuable family stood high in social and industrial circles of Macoupin County .  Its members did much to develop the resources of the section of the country.

NOTE: Read more info about Francis Lancaster in the story about the Bunker Hill Brick Plant at

...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, April 23, 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bunker Hill Tornado - 67th Anniversary

Thursday, March 19, will mark the 67th Anniversary of the Tornado which hit Bunker Hill

March 25, 1948: A terrific disaster descended on Bunker Hill at 6:45 a.m., Friday morning (March 19), when a tornado ripped through this 112 year old city, taking a toll of 19 dead and 126 injured, and left a bumbled mass of wreckage in its wake.  The storm, which rolled over the business and residential areas like a steamroller, smashed brick and frame structures like paper houses, laying 80 percent of the city to waste, and caused damage estimated at one and a half million dollars.

The destructive windstorm also hit North Alton, practically wiped out Fosterburg, a village of 200 inhabitants about 15 miles southwest of Bunker Hill, struck south Gillespie, causing great damage, and wrecked many farm homes along the entire entire article reprint at

From the Bunker Hill Gazette News, April 23, 2015:

Ironically, this was taken after the tornado in 1948.  The man on the left is my late father, Reno "Blackie" DalPozzo, who worked at Bahn's in Bunker Hill.  The morning of the tornado, my dad told the story that he had the truck at home and it was raining.  He forgot his umbrella and raincoat and went back in the house to get them, may have actually saved his life.  The truck stalled out in the bottoms on Bunker Hill Road and he saw the tornado go overhead.  When he got to Bunker Hill and saw the damage, he realized how lucky he was.  Having spent his time in the Army during World War II as a medic, he volunteered to help with the injured.  He never gave any details about that day other than the fact that someone was looking out for him that morning.

He couldn't seem to remember who the man on the right is.  Perhaps your readers will help with that question.  
 ---Photo compliments of Cindy (DalPozzo) Leonard, Staunton.

...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, March 12, 2015, April 23, 2015

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Fire Chief Ed Gerdes

Pictured: Bunker Hill Fire Chief Ed Gerdes

Reprinted from the Gazette-News, January 8, 1970

    Ed Gerdes, Chief of the Bunker Hill Fire Protection District, is observing his 88th birthday today.  He is likely doing the thing he does nearly everyday, tending to matters at the firehouse in Bunker Hill. He has been a member of the Bunker Hill Fire Department for nearly 42 years.

    Chief Gerdes joined the fire department in 1928, and became chief in 1939.  He was chief when the present fire protection district was formed in 1950.

    He is chief of one of the largest fire districts in the state, with boundaries in two counties, from Prairietown and Dorsey on the south to near Wilsonville, Dorchester, and Plainview on the north, and near Brighton on the west.  There are more than 800 farms in the district, as well as communities of Dorsey, Prairietown, and Shipman, each of which has its own fire company with a pumper and firehouse.  The Bunker Hill Company has two pumpers and an emergency truck.

Pictured: Bunker Hill Firemen surveying the 1948 Building Tornado Damage

    Naturally, he has many memories of fires in the past.  Some are tragic while some incidents were humorous.  He recalls the time the old Reo truck caught fire.  It was at the farm of Jake Mamie.  Jim Jencks was chief then and had the fire truck close to the burning house to pump from a well or cistern.  The wind shifted and the fire was too close.  The hose had to be cut to get the truck away from the building.  Before that was accomplished, the seat had caught fire.

    Gerdes was born and reared in St. Louis.  He came to Bunker Hill at the age of 18.  He went to work on the farm of his uncle, George Gerdes until he was 21.  Then he started working at other places.  At the condensery, the Bunker Hill coal mine for 17 years, then worked at the water works for 13 years.  He worked at the Ford garage and also did carpentry and electrical work.

Pictured: The Bunker Hill Fire Department (date unknown).  Firement andn horses pose before the old firehouse which was replaced in the 1940's

    The task that he has been doing since the flagpole was built uptown, and continues to do (except when the Christmas lights are up) is to raise the flag each morning and lower it each evening.  He is the only one who performs this task, except when he is ill.

    Behind Ed Gerdes is his wife of 64 years, the former Elizabeth Sneeringer, to whom he was married January 26, 1916 at St. Mary's parsonage.  They moved to Bunker Hill two years after their marriage and have resided on West Warren Street since 1918.

...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, February 5, 2015.