Friday, December 19, 2014

Bridges over the Wabash and the Embarass Rivers in the 1860's

Prior to 1863 there was no bridge over the Wabash into Vincennes from Illinois.  The Editor of the Weekly Vincennes Gazette encouraged the citizens of Vincennes to assist the Lawrence County Supervisors in their endeavor to build one.  

Date: March 21, 1863

"The movement on the part of the people of Allison prairie for the erection of a Bridge across the Wabash river at this point, is one which should be encouraged by our citizens, and for every dollar subscribed for the accomplishment of the object, by citizens of Illinois, three should be contributed by those of Vincennes. The bridge would be a matter of convenience to our Illinois neighbors, but it is one of prime interest to those of this city. The trade of party of Lawrence, Jasper, Crawford, Wabash and other counties in Illinois, has for some years, sought a market at Vincennes, because it was nearest and best, but that trade would be largely increased, yes, quadrupled if there were the facilities of a bridge for crossing the river. The inconveniences, as well as the cost of crossing by means of the old ferryboats, deter many from bringing the surplus products of their farms to our city for a market, and only those who are forced to do so think of seeking a market here. Our citizens have not hitherto pursued a policy to invite trade, but with the experience of the past season before them— the long trains of wagons, loaded with wheat and other surplus products, from the rich prairies of Illinois, which crowded our streets, and gave life and activity to the business of our town, they must be convinced of the importance of providing such conveniences as will of themselves be an inducement to farmer to bring their surplus produce to our city for a market. No single thing that can be done, will so effectually accomplish it as the creation of a bridge, over which a safe and cheap crossing can be had— one over which the farmer can pass at any hour of the day or night and not be compelled to remain all night, as is frequently the case now, after the transaction of his business, because the ferry boats won’t cross him after night. As a paying investment for money, none better can be had, for even with the receipt would pay 30 per cent on cost. A mistaken notion exists as to the cost of building such a bridge as would accommodate the wants of all. $30,000 is the utmost extent of the amount necessary to build one with first class stone masonry and double track super-structure— one, the masonry of which would last forever, and the wood work, with but trifling repairs, for a quarter of a century. This amount of money ought to be raised readily, and if our citizens are alive to their own interest, they will cordially unite with those of Illinois, and raise the necessary funds so as to have the work done in time for the trade of next fall. Let our business men attend the meeting in Allison prairie on the 7th of April, and consult with the farmers of Illinois, who have set the ball in motion; and by a vigorous effort, the work will be so speedily done that they will be astonished that they slept so long without it."

The editor tired again two years later when an iron bridge was proposed, this time over the Embarrass.  Both bridges would help trade with Vincennes.  

Date: August 5, 1865

WORTHY OF CONSIDERATION.—The Supervisors of Lawrence county, Illinois, have made an appropriation of a sum of money out of the swamp land fund to build a good substantial bridge across the Embarrass river at the site of the old plank road bridge. The rock for the abutments and piers are now being delivered, and the work will progress as soon as the water subsides. The superstructure will be of iron, thus making it permanent— the whole to be completed by the 15th of September next. This will be an improvement that has been long needed by the citizens of Lawrence county and the public generally who travel over the old road between this place and Lawrenceville. The Supervisors also propose to make a liberal appropriation to repair the road across Allison prairie, if the business men and others in Vincennes will likewise contribute with a liberal spirit to the same object. It is a proposition worthy of consideration. The roads out of Vincennes, West, have long been a reproach to the enterprise and liberality of our citizens. It is true that they have expended a great deal of money in times past to build and maintain a good road over the prairie. The plank road in which they invested largely proved a failure, as have all plank roads. But their disappointment in that scheme is no apology for their utter neglect of a road which if kept in good repair, would not only redound to the credit of the city, but very greatly promote its interests. We hope the citizens of Vincennes will take the necessary measures to meet the supervisors in the spirit of liberality which they tender to them, when they are so deeply interested.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Plank Road

The Plank Road is identified with the early  history of Illinois and is one of the pioneer highways of the State. Several postings have been made about this plank road between Vincennes and Lawrenceville including a description of how it was constructed.  (Use the search button and the word "plank road' to review these on this blog site.) 

In September of 1850  Henry D. Wheeler, local contractor and mill operator, supervised the construction of  the road, but eight years later the road was in trouble. 

Date: July 28, 1858

MORE TROUBLES FOR THE PLANK ROAD COMPANY.—"The Vincennes and Lawrenceville Plank Road Company is certainly afflicted with more than the ordinary ills that corporations are heir to. It is without money, in debt, sued in two courts, their road is held by judgments, and is "down at the heel" and in public estimation generally, but still, as if misfortune "had marked it for her own," it seems destined to a still "lower deep." J. B. Watts, Esq., of Lawrenceville, brought intelligence yesterday that the bridge belonging to this Company, across the Embarrass river, had fallen in. So it goes."

In August the Stockholders of the Lawrenceville Plank Road Company meet in the city and agreed to pay the  voluntary assessment of 12 ½ % on capital stock for the liquidation of the debt amount to approximately $1,800.

Six years later.....

Date: July 30, 1864

BRIDGE OVER EMBARRASS.—The Board of Supervisors of Lawrence county, Ill., at their session on Monday passed an appropriation of $7,000 to build a bridge across Embarrass river . This is an important improvement and will be of great advantage to the trade of our own city.

(Ed Comment:  So was there no bridge over the river until then......)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lawrence County Men Drafted for the Civil War

The list of drafted men in Lawrence county, Ill. published in "The Weekly Western Sun" of 1 Apr 1865, contained 84 names - 36 from Lukin Twp, 42 from Russell Twp,  and 6 from Denison Twp. The researchers are still struggling to understand the concept of quota, credits, excesses, and deficiencies in each county.  Perhaps, the other townships in the county had met their draft quota and  Lukin, Russell, & Denison had fallen short. The researchers had originally thought that Lawrence Co had been credited with more soldiers than its quota - meaning no draft was necessary.  Yet, 84 men from 3 townships had their names drawn at Olney.  (Lucky guys!)  

Some served, some paid substitutes to serve for them.  Examples of those who served include S.B.F. Keneipp, Bazil Hill, Daniel Bell, Henry Cunningham, Eli Bunn, Abisha Turner, James R. Hill, Daniel Ransbarger, and Joseph Winship.   Examples of those who paid substitutes include Alfred Pinkstaff (his substitute was Bernard Moan), Joshua Potts, and surely others.
The late Nathalie Brooke Cooper, a member of the LCHS; stated that her Gr-Grandfather Thomas E. Brooke served in Co I, 5th Ill. Cav.& her Gr-Grandfather Joshua Potts bought himself a substitute:  " “Thomas Brooke had 12 kids leaving 6 kids at home when he volunteered and went to the Civil War.  Granddad Brooke did not approve of those who bought themselves out of serving in the Civil War such as her Grandfather Potts." (We wonder what his wife said as he waved goodbye, leaving her with 6 kids still at home.)
Collection: The Civil War 
Date: September 10, 1864

THE DRAFT—QUOTA OF THE ELEVENTH ILLINOIS DISTRICT,—Following is the quota of the counties mentioned composing a portion of the Eleventh (Ill .) district:

Crawford —Quota, 1,448; credit, 1,144; excess in sub-districts, 9; deficiency of sub-districts, 313.

Jasper—Quota, 770; credit, 817; excess in sub-districts, 78; deficiency of sub-districts, 31.

Richland—Quota, 1,025; credit, 1,485; excess in sub-districts, 400; deficiency of sub-districts, none.

Lawrence—Quota, 918; credits, 1,007; excess in sub-districts, 140; deficiency of sub-districts, 51.

Collection: The Civil War
Date: April 1, 1865
Title: The Draft In Lawrence County , Ill .

(The following is the list of names, drawn at Olney, submitted for the draft. Spellings are given as they occurred in the paper.Submitted by J King.)


1 Wm R Shrader
2 W M Eamonson
3 S R F Kneipp
4 Basil Hill
5 John C Bedine
6 Andrew Millegan
7 John King
8 Wm Andrew
9 Daniel Bell
10 Julius Starkman
11 Wesley Bell
12 Israel Ruby
13 Charles Hyatt
14 John Canada
15 S H Cunningham
16 Wm Corrie
17 Eli Bunn
18 Philip Gisler
19 Richard Sanders
20 Wm Bell
21 —McCabe
22 Wm Swartz
23 Christian Morrow
24 Jacob S Gold
25 Wm Crage
26 R Nayer
27 Obisha Turner
28 John Bowman
29 H Cunningham
30 Wm Lewis
31 James R Hill
32 John Ridgley
33 Jos Roderick;
34 Ezekiel Gaddy
35 Calvin Williams
36 James Corril


1 Milton Heath
2 John Fisher
3 Wm McAndrew
4 Anderson Funk
5 John J Hodden
6 Wm J Cruse
7 Jacob Miller
8 Dan'l Ranberger
9 Geo Hodges
10 Wm Huff
11 Newt B Brashears
12 Jas Adams
13 Wm Pinkstaff
14 Adam Lackey
15 Wm Benedict
16 Alex Wilbur
17 Chas Thompson
18 Sam'l Lindsey
19 Cyrus Cross
20 Benj Fisher
21 Henry Miller
22 Jerry. Jenkins
23 C B Brashears
24 Isaiah French
25 Geo. Wampler
26 Miles Childers
27 John B Price
28 John Shelton
29 Jesse McCarty
30 Joel Sccrate
31 John Wilbur
32 Jas Wabingtosh
33 Wm A Jones
34 Henry Wampler
35 Wm Johnson
36 Clement Hallett
37 Alfred Pinkstaff
38 John Miller
39 James Mickey
40 H Miller
41 Geo Gillam
42 W P Greggs


1 James Stanfield
2 Joseph Winship
3 John S Parson
4 John G Buchanan
5 Joshua Potts
6 Alex Ryan

Lawrenceville Garden Club Holiday Award

Congratulations Esther Hesler, Kaye Fisher, Nancy King, John King, and  Larry Curry for helping the Historical Society receive the Lawrenceville Garden Club Holiday Award! Stop by Mike Neal's  at 712 12th Street and see the windows.  The Museum building looks especially nice at night with the candles in the windows, the fresh greenery and the huge wreath above the door.  Thank you Decorating Committee for a job well done!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How many cars were sold in Lawrence County in 1914?

One of my researchers, J King, found the following interesting article in a magazine described as the first automobile journal titled “The Horseless Age” Vol 34, No 10 page 352  published Sept 2, 1914.
The Growth of a Lawrenceville Agent.

Through the recent incorporation of the Maxwell Motor Car Co., of Lawrenceville, Ill., under the laws of the State of Illinois, there came to light another interesting story of rapid development of an automobile retail business. Three and a half years ago A. L. Maxwell decided to enter the automobile business and established an agency at Lawrenceville. With an eye for the future Mr. Maxwell erected a building for his agency which was far in advance of the requirements of the community at that time, but owing to the wonderful growth that has marked his business during the last three years the establishment, which is considered one of the best in the State, is now too small and is being enlarged by the erection of a modern shop exclusively for automobile repair work.

During the first year the Maxwell Motor Car Co. sold 46 cars of all kinds, and the following season this mark was almost doubled, 87 cars being sold. The prosperity enjoyed by the automobile industry in 1913 was also shared by Mr. Maxwell, for during that season his sales totaled 205 cars. This was thought to be a high-water mark, but even greater success has been obtained this year, since up to August 24, his company sold and delivered 300 cars.

"With this growing business, I found it advisable to incorporate," says Mr. Maxwell, "and as we have always done business under the name of the Maxwell Motor Car Co., we have adopted that name and are issuing $150,000 of common stock and $50,000 preferred stock.

"We sell Hudson and Reo cars in a territory of twenty-two counties in Southern Illinois and Indiana. A branch house has been established in Vincennes, Ind., and we are just now opening one at Evansville, Ind. In the city of Lawrenceville, a place of 5000 to 10000 people, where our home office is located, there are said to be more automobiles than In any other town of like size anywhere in the country."

Ed Note from Researcher King:  Casper "Cap' Lewis and Noah Tohill bought Maxwell's stock offering.

To read more about automobiles during this period, this interesting magazine can be found at:

For pictures of Hudson cars that Maxwell probably sold see:

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Walnut Pews at Shiloh Church

Annie L Mangum wrote an article on Wed Aug 16, 1961 for the Illinois Baptist magazine about the Walnut pews at Shiloh church:

High upon the top branch of a tree along the Wabash River hung some black walnuts.  Along came a gust of wind and blew them all to the ground. Some of these walnuts chanced to sink in to the good moist earth where they grew for centuries.  They belonged to 'Uncle Sam' until an enterprising young man from Butler County Ohio,. Jacob Hershey came to Lawrence County Il, saw their beauty and the potential worth and purchased the land.  The government gave him a parchment paper deed to trees and the  land on which they grew in 1839.

When the trees became two of three feet in diameter their owner decided they were right for cutting.  In came the loggers with their cross-cut saws and felled them one by one.  They were cut into logs 10-12 feet long and stashed in the edge of the Wabash River to season..  Because they were superior logs  the owner did not want them to  warp or buckle.  They seasoned in their watery bed for more than a year.  When the Baptists organized a new church in 1839 near Bridgeport the building had only puncheon seats.  The timber farmer and his good wife were  among  the first members to join the church.  

The man attended the business meetings of the church even though he had to ride 8 miles on horse- back.  It was brought up at the business meeting that they needed new pews.  The next morning the man went down to the river to look over his walnut logs.  They were beautiful logs, all the same size and so smooth and faultless.  He knew it would take all of them to seat the church but he had planned on using the money to buy another fertile 80 acres of land.  After sleeping a restless night he said to his wife that the Lord had won. "He gets the logs."  They are the best logs in Lawrence County  and we can't give less than that.

The next meeting Jacob arrived early and announced he would donate the walnut logs.  They were hauled to a sawmill where they were cut into boards, two feet wide planed by hand to perfect smoothness and made into pews.  Used in the church for three generations, the pews finally began to show the effects of time.  They served more than a hundred years until the church caught fire form an overheated stove and burned to the ground one winter day.  The pews were saved and stored in a neighboring barn where they remained until the new church was finished.  Once again they were used until the church became financially able to purchase new ones for the sanctuary.  The 120-year old walnut pews were retired to the basement.

The writer of the article asked for two of them as a remembrance of her grandfather.  A cabinet maker at St Francisville transformed them into a beautiful knee hole desk which graced the home of the old Deacon's descendants in 1961 when the article was written.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Courthouse Clock Answers

After the post about the Courthouse Clock: ( If you wake up and hear the courthouse clock strike one time, how long will you need to stay awake to know what time it is?) several readers commented.

E Brumley said "since it rings on the hour, if it rang once you'd need to stay awake 1 hour to hear it ring again, or twice at 2:00 am.
J Gosnell said 30 minutes
F Price said 30 minutes also and then amended her answer to:  30 minutes if it is 12;30 or 1:00 or 1:30.  All other times it is 1 hour.
L Gognat said: Either 30 min if its half past any number but 12 . If its half past 12 you will have to stay awake another 90 minutes (1:00...1:30 then 2:00 you will know.)
A Couts said: if the clock struck 1 @ 12:30 you'd have to wait 1 1/2 hrs until 2
                        If struck @ 1:00  then you'd have to wait  1 hour until 2
                         If struck at 1:30 then you'd have to wait 1/2 hours  until 2
Others had the same ideas.

So there you have it....I hope that while you are awake listening to the clock to see what time it is, you are reading Lawrence Lore.  We have almost 100,000 hits since Aug 2010  on this site which is amazing, as well as sending out 280 emails each day to subscribers who get to read all this fabulous history for FREE!  (The researchers and I think a party is in order!  Who knew so many people would be interested in Lawrence County History!)

Which of course leads us right into the commercial:  If you are that interested, why aren't you helping us?  We need your assistance to preserve all this history...Our museum and the library buildings have monthly bills to pay.  We GET NO government assistance.  If you enjoy this blog once a day, why don't you show us your appreciation by sending us a check...of the 280 daily readers only 97 of you are paid there are several of you out there who have misplaced your checkbooks....
Come on...don't make us beg or switch to sending this to only paid members. We want everyone to enjoy, so please send in those donations.