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Lawrence County Illinois

Early Settlements In Lawrence County- submitted by Veda Grayson

These came from the 1968 Lawrence County Sesquicentennial book .
It states information compiled with the assistance of
Philip Berkshire, Ernie Helms, Turk Waggoner, Warren Creech, Martin Mieure and others.

The county seat is a part of the old French claim of Toussaint Dubois, was platted by JohnDunlap the County Surveyor June 27 and 28, 1821 and was named after Captain James Lawrence. Lawrenceville was incorporated as a town on February 12, 1835, was organized as a village March 12, 1879 and incorporated as a city in 1895.

The first house within the confines of Lawrenceville was built in 1816 by John Brigman. The Dubois brothers, Toussaint Jr. and Loire, sold the first merchandise in the city. At that time Lawrenceville was really a sugar camp with a few houses clustered beneath the sugar maples. Early businesses included a distillery, a carding and fulling mill, a flour mill, slaughter house and a cabinet factory.

In addition to the Dubois brothers, early prominent men included Daniel Payne, Cyranus Cole, W. C. Price, Henry H. Shepherd, J. C. Reilly; the town trustees C. Cole, Clinton Abernathy, Silas Hale, Robert W. Musgrave, T. A. Curry, John Roberts; the village clerk Daniel L. Gold and the magistrate Wm. Robinson. The first jail was built in 1821 and the first courthouse was erected in 1824.

Bridgeport was platted by David D. Lanterman and Aaron Shaw in the summer of 1854. It was incorporated as a town in 1865. Samuel Thorn was the first merchant and George W. Cooper erected the first store after the town was platted. Other buildings were put up by Philip Gwines, Harry Gwines, James Lanterman and John and Henry Hill. The first hotel was erected in 1858 by Jackson Lamott.Others associated with the early history of Bridgeport include Samuel H. and Rezin Clubb, Robert Drennen, William Martin, Thomas Fish, Samuel Newell, James Stewart, Dr. Samuel Hayes and Samuel L. Spencer.A destructive fire in 1861 almost wiped out the business section of Bridgeport

This village was the original site of an Indian town called Little Village. A number of Indian burial mounds existed in the area. The town was laid out by David Price and surveyed and platted by S. Dunlap, the county surveyor, October 26, 27, 28, 1835. It was named in honor of August, Andrew and Clement Russell, three brothers from Kentucky who built a sawmill and manufactured the lumber for the first buildings in the town. The town was first incorporated in 1872. Other early business included grist mills, a flouring mill, blacksmith shop and merchandising stores. Business men included George W. Toroman, Ferdinand Vanderburg, A. R. Slosson and David Price.
The first frame schoolhouse was built shortly after the town was laid out and was used until a two room building was built in 1861.A frame church was built by the Christian denomination about 1845. The first white child of American parents born in Lawrence County was E. P. Fyffe, born in Russellville, July 17, 1812. He died March 12, 1878.

Town of Chauncey
The town of Chauncey, situated in Petty Township, and located about a mile south of the Crawford County line was surveyed under the direction of William H. Brown, William Munn and Christian Loos proprietors, in December, 1854, and a plat map was made by Peter Smith, county surveyor.
The first house in Chauncey was built by John Bach who had a blacksmith shop. Luther Watts was the first merchant, moving there in 1860. Later Daniels and Waggoner opened a grocery store. A wagon shop was built around 1867, and wagons were manufactured for two years by William S. and Samuel Lyttle. Drug stores were owned by Daniel Patton and Dr. H. P. Smith. H. A. Murphy was one of the early doctors. In 1873 the post office was established with George D Barnes as the first postmaster. Also around this time there were harness, saddle maker and shoemaker businesses. In addition during the years of Chauncey's existence there has been a scale yard, furniture store, coffin factory, undertaking parlor, apple butter and cider factory, general repair shops, doctor's offices, lodges, creamery, gas stations, restaurants and fertilizer plant. The first school was a log building erected about 1/2 mile east of the town on the Munn property, with John Wilgus as teacher. It was later
replaced in 1872 by a two story brick building within the town. The present building was built in 1912.

The Methodist Episcopal Church built a church in 1858 at a cost of $850.00. Trustees were William Munn, M. L. Watts, Henry Berkshire and Gilmore Flower.The Methodist Protestant Chauncey Circuit, organized by William James in 1853, built a church in 1861 at a cost of $1,000. Early members in the church were J. B. Stout, Eliza Stout, Andrew Mushrush, Christina Mushrush, Christian Loos, Isabel Loos, Jacob Waggoner, Maria Waggoner and Richard Bach.

The town situated on the Embarrass River was laid out by Asahel Heath, March 22, 1837.
At one time it contained two dry goods and two grocery stores, a blacksmith and wagon shop, and a grist mill. It is no longer in existence.

Birds Station
Birds Station was surveyed and platted by J. B. Benefiel, county surveyor and was filed for record September 10,1878. In this year, Isaac Baldridge built the first frame house at which he kept the post office. Other merchants were W. N. Cochrane (dry goods) and Lindsay and Bristow (drug store).

Pinkstaff Station
Pinkstaff Station was surveyed and platted by J. B. Benefiel in February 23, 1877. An early merchant was T. J. Pinkstaff. Alonzo Eaton was the first postmaster.

Olean, in Bond Township, was laid out by George W. White in the spring of 1882. The only business was a grocery store. This village is extinct.

The town of Billett was laid out by Jake Castle, but was named Billett some 'time after when John Billett started a store in a building which had been built by the railroad company. Billett also built the first dwelling house.Lumbering was the major occupation in the beginning, however when the land was cleared, people began to farm. Thomas Bussee built a grist mill northeast of Billett. in 1860. This remained in existence until 1880. The burrs from this mill were later moved in 1935 to the campus of L.T.H.S. where they were placed in the form of a love seat. They are still there.
Early merchants in Billett included John Billett, Red Pinkstaff, John Ratcliff, Patrick Murphy, Walter Seed, Mack Crounh and Luther Shorts. Later merchants were John Meyers, J. T. Williams, Thomas B. England, George Wiseman, Samuel and Alexander Biehl, Samuel Robbins, Harrison Belt and others.

The first school, a one room school with log seats and taught by Delia Hill, was opened in 1882. It was in existence only 4 years. The next school built in 1886 was known as the red school house. It was built of tin and was painted a bright red. This was sold in 1910 to be used as a barn. A new school building was started in 1910.
The first church in the Billett area was one built northwest of Billett and was named after Frank M. Ackman who gave a large sum of money toward its construction. It was of the United Brethren denomination. In 1890 the Billett Methodist Church was dedicated. Individuals involved in the building of this church included George W. Mills and his wife Lucy, Gardner Barnhart, Thomas England, Senior, George Leighty, Solomon Laurence, Albert Tougaw, Clay Emory, James Laurence, Albert Rhine and others. Miss Annie Akin was the first organist.

St. Francisville
Joseph Tugaw, a pioneer Frenchman, moved from Vincennes, Indiana in 1804 to the site where St. Francisville now stands. He was followed in 1809 or 1810 by his brother, Francis Tugaw. The village, situated on the Wabash river, was laid out in 1835 or 1836 by Frances Tugaw, the widow of Joseph Tugaw. The plot file was recorded in 1837. St. Francisville was first incorporated as a town in 1869, and the first election of officers was held February 27th of that year. In January, 1873 the town was incorporated as a village. Mason Jones built the first blacksmith shop shortly after 1836, while Jackman's saw and grist mill was built about 1837. The post office was in this building about 1840

The first known school was operated by Decudra, a Catholic priest, in a frame building built by him. School was taught by two nuns. This school was in existence until about 1873. A Catholic church house was built about 1835. George Rogers Clark crossed the Wabash River near St. Francisville in February 1779 in his march from Kaskaskia to Vincennes to capture Fort Sackville from the British.

The original settlement of the people of Sumner was two miles west of the present town. This village was laid out in 1853 and was known as Fertile City. On the site stood a horse-mill and a general store. The village became extinct after the building of the 0 & M Railroad. The City of Sumner was organized in 1854 and was named after the first permanent settler in Christy Township, Benjamin Sumner. The first building in the town was a small one-story frame house. In 1855 Jacob May placed a stock of goods in it and thus became the first village merchant.
At one time Sumner was quite flourishing. Early businesses including a carding mill, two hotels, a livery barn where driving and riding horses could be rented by the public, a drayage business, produce stores, three mills, a harness shop, two blacksmith shops which also did horse-shoeing, a wood carving shop and a photographic studio.

Merchants included Jacob May, McKelfresh and Martin, Willard Morgan, Thomas Harper, Arch Bolding, Dr. William Friend, B. L. Cunningham, and John S. Barekman among others. James Wagner was an early editor of the Sumner Press. The first church building was the Christian Church and was built about 1864.

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County History
Source: "Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois", ©1901
LAWRENCE COUNTY - one of the eastern counties in the "southern tier," originally a part of Edwards, but separated from the latter in 1821, and named for Commodore Lawrence. In 1900 its area was 360 square miles, and its population, 16,523. The first English speaking settlers seem to have migrated from the colony at Vincennes, Ind.

St. Francisville, in the southeastern portion, and Allison prairie, in the northeast, were favored by the American pioneers. Settlement was more or less desultory until after the War of 1812. Game was abundant and the soil productive. About a dozen Negro families found homes, in 1819, near Lawrenceville, and a Shaker colony was established about Charlottesville the same year. Among the best remembered pioneers are the families of Lautermann, Chubb, Kincaid, Buchanan and Laus -- the latter having come from South Carolina. Toussaint Dubois, a Frenchman and father of Jesse K. Dubois, State Auditor (1857-64), was a large land proprietor at an early day, and his house was first utilized as a court house. The county is richer in historic associations than in populous towns. Lawrencville, the county-seat, was credited with 865 inhabitants by the census of 1890. St. Francisville and Sumner are flourishing towns.

LAWRENCEVILLE - the county-seat of Lawrence County, is situated on the Embarras River, at the intersection of the Baltimore & Ohio Southwestern and the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railways, 9 miles west of Vincennes, Ind., and 139 miles east of St. Louis. It has a courthouse, four churches, a graded school and two weekly newspapers. Population in 1890 was 865; In 1900 - 1,300; (1903, est) 1,600.

SUMNER - a city of Lawrence County, on the Baltimore & Ohio Southwestern Railroad, 19 miles west of Vincennes, Ind; has a fine schoolhouse, four churches, two banks, two flour mills, telephones, and one weekly newspaper. Population in 1890 was 1,037; In 1900 - 1,268.

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