History of the Plainview Community, Hilyard
Macoupin County Ilinois
©2000 Jim Frank
(Donated by Jim Frank to Gloria Frazier for the Macoupin County IL site.)
Researched and written by Jim Frank.
This was presented as a program to the Macoupin County Historical Society (Illinois)
History of the Plainview Community
(Hilyard Township, Macoupin County Illinois)
The history of the Plainview Community goes back for an indefinite time. We consider the history as starting with the arrival of the white settlers, but for centuries this land was home and hunting grounds of various Indian tribes.
Many Indian artifacts have been found in the area. Probably the most notable was when Harris Thomas found a red sandstone carved pipe in 1875 while working on a farm north of Plainview. The pipe was thought to be of Mayan origin and was bought to this area from South America during the period of the Mound Builders many hundreds of years ago.
As the white man pressed Westward, the Indian tribes were gradually eliminated and forced west of the Mississippi River. The last Indian encampment in Macoupin County was seen in 1826, however a few returned to hunt along the creeks in this area until about 1830. A big snow in the winter 1830-31 then covered the ground with several feet of snow for several months and killed by starvation most of the deer and larger wild life hunted by the Indians. The Indians never returned to hunt after that, plus the fact that the white man had started settling in this area.
The Plainview Community is made up of several smaller communities usually named after local schools, Churches, or early settlers. This community was called, "Wagoner's Prairie" by early settlers. It consisted nearly all of Hilyard Township and that part of Polk Township that lies south of the Macoupin Creek. It stretches from Macoupin Creek on the north to Coop's Creek and Centerville on the south, and from Pleasant Grove and Corrington Chapel on the east to Harmony on the west.
The following is a letter written by a Plainview resident in the February 19, 1857 issue of the Carlinville Free Democrat that describes the Plainview Area.
"Messre Ede.-In my last communication I promised to give your readers a description of this part of the state of Macoupin.
"'Plainview Prairie' better known to the old settlers as Wagoner's Prairie is situated between the Macoupin Creek and Coop's Creek. At the western extremity of the Prairie near the confluence of the two streams (Macoupin and Coop's) it is quite narrow, but widens out gradually as approaches the head of Coop's Creek to the width of five miles. The general appearance of the prairie is rather level, but when we come to pass over it we find innumerable drains leading from the prairie to the neighboring stream which carries the water very ready. The distance to the main stream is so short and the amount of land lying between them is so small that the water gets off much more readily than it does off those largest prairies where it has to pass through artificial drains before it finds a natural outlet. The quality of the soil is good, probably not as good a portions of Jersey or Green Counties but I think it is equal to any part of this county that I have passed on. A large share of the prairie land is now under cultivation, now yielding bountiful harvest to those whom till the soil. The remainder of the prairie has been kept in a state of nature by land speculation, who are holding it for higher prices. A large quantity of these lands are now in market and can be bought for $20.00 an acre, which is the ruling price for unimproved land of good quality in the neighborhood. Cultivated land is worth $20 to $40 per acre, according to the quality and location of the land and value of improvements. There are some half dozen school houses on the prairie, and also churches convenient to all."
"Kentucky and Tennessee, I think furnish a large share of our population, though we have a smart sprinkle of "Yankee and Hoosiers".
"The timber which stretches along neighboring creeks is very abundant and affords all we want in that line. It has on each creek an average of two miles of timber. It is worth from $8 to $20 an acre, and some choice lots might bring more. Stone is convenient and in quantities that are inexhaustible. The stone is of good quality for building or any other purpose on the farm. It is worth in the quarry from 8 to 10 cents, and when raised, 20 to 25 cents per perch. There is also considerable coal on Coop's Creek but as Alton coal is more available we get most of our supplies from that point."
"Thus Messres. Editors, I have given you a meager of the conditions of things amongst us. I should have spoken of our politics, morals, etc. but time forbids. Plainview in 1857."
The local history of this area and Hilyard Township goes back to 1815 with the settlement of the first white resident to settle in Macoupin County when David Coop SR, his wife and several children settled a home here on the banks of a small stream that was to be named after them, "Coop's Creek". The home site was three miles south of Plainview and was slightly west of where Simmermaker Grove is now. (Simmermaker Grove is on Route 16 and as many of you may remember was the timber grove where the former ATA Picnics were always held.)
The Coop family lived there about ten years and in 1825 or 1826 they moved away from this area after losing three of their children during a scourge of cholera that struck the family. They moved to the mound six miles east of Carlinville thereafter known as Coop's Mound. After a few years the Coop family moved on to Iowa where Mr. Coop died. Mrs. Coop then remarried a former resident of this county and they returned to Macoupin County to live.
The next person to settle in this community was when Elisha Kelly , a young bachelor, came from North Carolina in the spring of 1817 and built a rough cabin beside an Indian spring near the Macoupin Creek about two miles north of Plainview. He was a hunter, explorer, and trapper and roamed great distances over the unsettled country.
A year later in 1818, a brother John Kelly arrived, took his cabin and Elisha moved on to settle in a peaceful valley he had found during his wanderings in Sangamon County. The following year, John along with their father joined Elisha at the new home in Sangamon County and founded the community where Springfield now stands.
In the fall of 1817, John Powell and the family of Abram Folk arrived. John Powell shortly after married a daughter of David Coop. This was the first marriage in Hilyard Township. Powell and Folk settled in the north east part of Hilyard near an old Indian trail that was later to be called the Sangamon-Alton Trace Stage Road. This road is now named Stagecoach Road.
In olden times there was an Indian trail that came up from Edwardsville in Madison County, passing over Wolf Ridge which is now Bunker Hill. There was also an Indian trail that came up from near Alton and passed through what is now Fosterburg and Woodburn and then the two trails merged into one trail east of Plainview, passing up over Brushy Mound Township and on past Carlinville on the east side of town.
A stage wagon was advertised in 1822 to run from St.Louis to Sangamon every two weeks taking two days for the trip. This stage route which passed through Edwardsville, Lincoln (near Bunker Hill) and Carlinville followed much of this Indian trail. By 1833 this route was being used as a Federal mail route between Springfield, Alton and St. Louis.
A state road between Springfield and Alton was surveyed in 1833 and followed the same route from Springfield as the Sangamon-St. Louis Road to Section 3 in Hilyard Township and then turned southwest following the Indian trail through Woodburn and Fosterburg towards Alton. The Illinois State Legislature was promoting Alton as a major river port in competition with St. Louis and regulated that state roads pass to Alton instead of St. Louis. In 1837 a contract was awarded to carry mail between Carlinville and Alton over this route.
The first Post Office in Hilyard Township was established in 1846. Alfred Ellet was the first Postmaster. A few years previous, Alfred Ellet and his brother Edward had come from Pennsylvania and established a settlement called Plainview in the northeast corner of the township on the Springfield Alton Trace Stage Road. The name Plainview is thought to be derived as when the State Road was surveyed and laid out, a path of trees six rods wide (approximately one hundred feet wide) was cleared to make the road. Thus, this gave a plain view through the woods. This Plainview was three miles east of the Plainview we know today. The settlement consisted mainly of a stagecoach change station and tavern and a few scattered cabins. There was a stage coach change station at Woodburn and another near Carlinville and the team pulling the stage was run from one station to the next where the stage was then changed to a fresh team. Later when the railroad was established through the county, the stage line ceased operation and the village faded away. A new Plainview was surveyed, established and settled along the railroad three miles to the west.
While early history tells us there were only a few people living here around 1817, there were apparently a few other families now unknown living scattered about the southern part of the county at this time. Sometime between 1815 and 1817 the Reverend William Jones, an evangelist preacher of the Baptist faith who lived near Upper Alton, came and preached a meeting on Coop's Creek near where the Woodburn-Carlinville Stage Road crossed the creek.
After 1817, people began to flow into the township by an increasing rate. Tom Smith arrived and settled in the southwest part of the township in 1818. Smith creek in that area was named after him.
William Jolley and Richard Skaggs settled in the northwest part of the township in 1832. By the time the Hilyard family arrived in 1834, there were fifteen families totaling about seventy-five persons living in Hilyard Township. The Hilyard family settled near the center of the township and from that family the township received its name. Among other families already living here when they arrived were the families of Gray, Pruitt, Maxwell, Leyarley, Ray, Lemay, Miller and Thomas.
In those days with no local grist mill, we are told many of the settlers often had to take grain as far away as Belleville, Edwardsville and Upper Alton to have grain ground into meal. This distant also had to be traveled to receive or to send mail. Very little mail was exchanged then as the receiver had to pay an exorbitant postage on the letter before given the correspondence.
The published 1879 Macoupin County History tells us that the Hilyard family during the first year living here, cut fence rails and hauled them all the way to Edwardsville and sold them for 25 cents a hundred and purchased corn at a dollar a bushel to be ground into cornmeal. Wheat flour was so precious that year that they only ate flour biscuits on Sunday mornings.
In 1829, Peter Wagoner and William Rhodes living near Upper Alton in Madison County, selected sites north of Plainview, erected cabins and returned with their families in 1830 to settle. Peter Wagoner built the first house on the Prairie and from that settlement originated the name Wagoner's Prairie which the prairie around Plainview came to be called.
The first settlers in the county just squatted on the land claims. Land was not offered for sale by the government in llinois until 1814 when land was entered in lots of 320 acres at $2.00 per acre with five years to pay in installments. This proved to be too large a debt for the average settler and there were not many takers other than speculators. In 1820 the law was changed to allow the entering of smaller tracts of 80 acres and the price was reduced to $1.25 per acre with three years to pay.
After Macoupin County was organized in 1829, those settlers desiring to remain here permanently began entering their land from the government. The first people in this community to enter land with the government were: Pleasant Lemay who entered 80 acres on December 15, 1830; Henry Rhea, 80 acres on August 20, 1831; Benjamin Edwards, 80 acres in October 1831; Peter Wagoner entered 160 acres in 1834, and his son Jacob Wagoner entered 80 acres in 1835 and William Rhodes entered 160 acres in 1835.
The first school in the community was held in the John Hilyard home in 1834. He taught his own children and some of the neighboring children. However there must have been some sort of a school even earlier because the David Coop children attended school somewhere before they moved away in 1825 or 26.
The first school house in Hilyard Township was built a few years later among the timber near Coop's Creek in Section 27. It was built near the site where the original Coop family cabin had stood. The schoolhouse was built of unhewed logs and the roof was made of sawed boards held in place by weighed poles. The floor was dirt and the window was a log left out and covered with oiled paper. The total cost of erection of this school was $10.00.
The first teacher to teach in this school was Aaron LeYarley. It was in this building that he started a career of teaching school. The LeYarley farm was about a mile north of the schoolhouse and until this school was built, the LeYarley children attended a school at Brooklyn a mile north of Shipman. This school was about three miles west from the LeYarley farm.
Prairie fires were frequent during the autumn months on the prairie, and in a few instances, the fires burned dwellings and did considerable damage to property. During a prairie fire in the fall of 1833, a child of Aaron LeYarley was caught in the prairie while on the way home from school and burned to death.
Most of the early settlers came from Kentucky, Tennessee and the southeastern states and were Southern Baptist or Episcopal Methodist. John Powell organized the first church of the area in the northeast part of the township. Rev. William Jones from near Alton was the first preacher. The services were held in individual homes for many years until 1845 when the first church was built somewhere in that locality. It is not known where the church stood or what became of the building. It was replaced in 1871 when a building was erected across the township line in Polk Township. This church was called Liberty Union Baptist Church. The church burned in 1917 and a part of the membership then joined the Plainview Baptist Association and attended church in Plainview.
The Episcopal Methodist organized a church in 1833 in the home of William Jolley. Rev. Meldrum was their first minister. They met in homes until a church was erected 1857 and was called Corrington Chapel. The building was erected in the northwest corner of section 25. This building stood a half of a mile east of the Shipman, Bunker Hill, Gillespie route 16-159 junction.
In 1882 a new Chapel was erected and the old church building was moved across the road and converted into use as a schoolhouse for the children in the neighborhood. At this time Orville Snedeker donated $5.00 toward starting a fund to purchase a bell to swing in the belfry of this school.
Shortly after the new church was erected and in use, the membership had quite a scare when following a Sunday night service, as the lamps were being put out, one of the chandeliers fell breaking two lamps and spilled oil onto one of the seats which instantly became a sheet of flames. The burning carpets were quickly torn up and the flames stamped out leaving a charred and blackened seat as a reminder of what more serious disaster may have been done.
As families moved away, the church eventually closed. Many of the remaining members of the membership then became a part of the Plainview Methodist Church. The Corrington Chapel Church building was sold to another church organization in East Alton and was dismantled and the material was taken away to be used in that church.
The Presbyterian Church of Plainview was organized in the home of Peter Brown on January 27, 1851. Reverend Platt was the first minister of this organization. It was known as the Union Church and in 1855 it was changed to First Presbyterian Church of Plainview. In 1857 two lots were purchased in Block 5 in the plat of Plainview and the church was built near the north edge of the village. About 1900 the church was disbanded and in 1901 the church building and lots were sold at auction, with the funds of the sale distributed to the Presbyterian Society in New York City.
The church building was purchased by the newly formed Plainview Baptist Association and the building was used by that association until the church was torn down August 11, 1975, when the membership erected a new building and held the first service in the new building on September 14, 1975.
In the Centerville vicinity, church services were held in homes since 1833 and land there had been donated for a church in 1834. After the school house was built in 1846, services were held there until 1851, when the Centerville Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church was organized March 6, 1851, when thirteen members met at the home of Mrs. Elizabeth Bullman to organize. The present church building was erected in 1855. Jacob Hopper was the first resident Minister. Since 1954, six additional rooms have been added to this church.
The Harmony Union Church was organized March 26, 1853 when 22 brethren of Wagoner Prairie met at the Hopewell Schoolhouse and organized a church. Reverend Jacob Rhoads was the pastor. In 1858 they constructed a church building in the north-east corner of Hilyard Township in section 6.
Twenty five years later in 1883 this church building was moved on wooden rollers a mile and a half to a site near the Armour schoolhouse in Chesterfield Township. At this time the building was extensively remodeled and is still being used by that organization.
A Plainview Methodist class was first organized in 1865 and it was joined to the Shipman Methodist Church. Another class was reorganized in 1868 and it met in a tenant house owned by John Shanner. Mr. Shanner prepared his tenant house into a church by taking out partitions between the kitchen and front room. A year later the house and grounds were sold to William H. Otwell for a dwelling house and it was moved and added to his residence.
The membership then met two Sundays a month in the Presbyterian Church with the Methodist minister of the Shipman Methodist Church coming to preach to them. In 1879 they had to change to using the schoolhouse as a meeting place, as members of the Presbyterian Church were objecting to them using their church building.
Services were not as pleasant in the schoolhouse and a move was made to construct a building 26 ft. by 36 ft. with a spire reaching to a height of forty feet. The first service in the new edifice was held February 1, 1880 and following services, C. S. Morgan and Miss Molly Boyle were married.
In 1888 the Methodist parsonage was built on the site of the old school house which was directly west of the Baptist Church. Fifty years later in 1948, the parsonage and lots were sold by auction to J. J. Sauerwine who tore the parsonage down and used the material in the construction of a new home.
The Plainview Methodist Church closed in 1968 due to a lack attendance. Membership transferred to the Shipman Methodist Church. The church and grounds were sold by closed bids and the church was dismantled.
In recent years another church was organized in the township when seven members organized the First Baptist Church of Royal Lakes in 1961. They held church in a converted chicken house on property in the Royal Lakes village for several years. A church building was than erected under the leadership of Reverend Wallace and first service in that building was held may 24, 1968. The name was changed to First community Baptist Church when the building was erected.
By 1834 word was spreading throughout the community that a railroad was being planned to run from Alton to Springfield via Carlinville and would pass through this community. It caused much talk and anticipation, as railroads were just becoming a reality as transportation. In fact many local people at this time didn't even know what a railroad was. With transportation, markets would be created for local produce, livestock and crops.
The building of railroads in America began in 1831, but at that time railroads had to be built in a straight line as the engine could not maneuver around corners. The building of a straight rail line between distant points required enormous expenditures of capital and usually were not feasible.
About this time a man named John Jarvis invented the swiveling truck which when placed under the front end of an engine enabled it to run around sharp curves. This made it possible for railroad builders to go around hills and other obstacles to reach points not in a straight line. After this, railroad promoters were able to make rapid progress in construction of railroads reaching many difficult and important points.
In 1833 a corporate of businessmen from Springfield, Carlinville and Alton asked the State Legislature to issue a Charter to promote a railroad to be built between Springfield, Carlinville and Alton. Delegates and investors from Carlinville were James C. Anderson, Mortimore Bainridge, J.M.S. Smith, Issac Greathouse, Seth Otwell, Joseph Barrow, and Philip Taylor. The charter was approved March 1, 1833.
This was during the time of the same period that discussion was underway to move the Capital of the State from Vandalia. Alton and Springfield were both contenders wanting the new Capital and promoters at both Alton and Springfield felt that if their city was the terminus of a railroad it would greatly help their chances in influencing the securing of the State Capital.
During 1835, General Mitchell of Pennsylvania was hired to survey a route and estimate the cost for building this railroad. It was felt the route could be built at a very modest cost because it would be built across flat prairie ground with the need of little grading.
After General Mitchell made his survey through this area, two men from Madison County, Mr. Ross Hauck and Jacob Gonterman purchased 80 acres of land two miles north of Plainview on the proposed route and proceeded to plat a town called Steubenville.
By 1836 the Illinois Historic Improvement scheme was at its height in Illinois. The Legislature was appropriating vast sums of money for improvements of navigation of rivers, building canals, and the building of a network of railroads without regards where this money would come from. Considerable stock was taken for building this railroad between Springfield and Alton.
The great financial crash and general suspension of the banks occurred in 1837. The state of Illinois was bankrupt for the next several years and the improvement scheme abandoned and plans for this railroad failed with investors taking a great loss.
Without the promise of the railroad, very few lots in Steubenville were ever sold and promise of a great-proposed town faded away. By1842 lots were no longer being sold in Strubenville and the town was soon forgotten.
After the State financial crisis had recovered, another railroad was chartered in 1847 and in 1851 and 1852 the Sangamon-Alton railroad was built through the community. The railroad was constructed by newly arrived Irish emigrant laborers. While the road was being built through this community the laborers were plagued by a cholera epidemic and not being immune to cholera many died during this epidemic. Some of these cholera victims were buried in the northeast corner of the new Wagoner cemetery north of Plainview and many more were simply buried on a hillside along the railroad north of Macoupin Station.
David Gore and his wife Cinderella, in 1853 plated the town of Plainview along the railroad that passed through their property. With the arrival of the railroad, the stage line ceased operating and several of the residents at old Plainview moved to this new Plainview on the railroad.
David Gore, Samuel Brown, and Samuel Welsh founded the David Gore and Company in 1854 and constructed and operated the first store in Plainview. Later in the year Samuel Brown bought out the other interest and he operated the business for the next 25 or 30 years. Samuel Brown was also the first postmaster of Plainview and he began duties in 1854. The first resident physician Dr. Charles Murphy, located here in 1854. Welsh, Brown, and Company erected a large flourmill with a capacity of 175 barrels of flour a day in 1867. Edward Potter operated a cooper shop along with the mill to furnish barrels in which to ship the flour.
The Plainview Masonic Lodge was organized October 22, 1866. The Lodge occupied the second floor of the Samuel Brown store until it was destroyed by fire November 21, 1883. A new store building was erected and the Lodge again occupied the second floor until May 1962 when a fire destroyed that store building and the Masonic Lodge members built their own building that same year.
A telegraph through Plainview was installed September 14, 1876.
On January 4, 1883 the flourmill closed permanently. Flour was being milled in larger mills in major cities on major ports and the small mills could not compete with those operations. Later in the year Mr. D. R. Sparks built an elevator with a capacity to hold 8,000 bushel of grain and started operating a grain business.
Plainview became a prosperous center, reaching a peak in population about 1875 when the village had a population of nearly 400 people. The village at that time had two general stores, a grocery, a blacksmith and wagon shop where wagons, buggies, and plows were built. It also had a shoe shop, a carpenter and builder, two physicians, a post office, a school, two churches, a stockyard, a milk dump for shipping milk, a sewing machine agent, a cooper shop, and a large flour mill.
From this point on the population of Plainview gradually dwindled. With the closing of the flour mill and cooper shop, much area employment was eliminated.
Telephones were installed in the village in 1904. The Baird family owned the first automobile in the community.
In 1912, a newly organized Plainview State Bank was opened. However, local business proved insufficient to continue the operation of a banking house and the Bank closed fifteen years later in 1927. The bank building still stands and is now used as a dwelling.
During 1913, John Koehler built a large new grain elevator on the north side of the railroad opposite the depot and milk dump. It was sold to E. L. Craw and Son who then operated the elevator until 1920 when a group of local farmers purchased the elevator and operated it as a cooperative with James Holly Meyers as manager. In the fall of 1924 while the railroad was being double tracked through Plainview, a spark from a steam shovel working on the railroad set the elevator on fire. Not only was the elevator destroyed, but also the fire destroyed an icehouse, ice cream parlor, and a home all north of the elevator.
Following the fire, a grocery store was erected and operated by Robert Rhoads where the destroyed elevator and home had stood. A year later it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. James Rhoads who then operated a store and a restaurant about a year until the business closed. The building was then used as a dance hall and in 1934 Mr. Robert Leon operated it as a tavern for a short while until the township was voted dry. The building is now used as a home.
A store stood on Center Street opposite the township hall. Mr. and Mrs., Roy Wood later remodeled the building into a home. While in business this store had been operated over the years by Michael Brassell and Bros; Tom, Mike and Jimmy Collins; Bob and Jack Rroach; and the last to operate a store there was Robert Rhoads.
The general store on the south side of First Street was operated over the years by William Otwell and Shanner; Frank Shanner; Jack Roach; Walter Sweet; Jess Gregory; Donald Main; and Wilma Dugan. In the late 1950's the top story was removed and the first floor made into a home.
The store on the northwest corner of First Street over the years was operated by Gore, Brown and Welsh; Brown and Bullman; Brown, Brown and Otwell; Samuel Brown and Son; LeMay and Sheppard; Dey and Mehan; Wesley Gilworth; W. W. Dugan; Roy Gee; John Blakeman; John Pierce; Kimbrow and Avon; Alpherus Rhodes; Clyde Kidwell; and Clifford Dugan until the store burned in 1962. The building was never rebuilt. Following the fire, Plainview was without a grocery store for the first time in 110 years. In 1963 Mrs. James Lambeth erected a store building on the hard road on the southwest edge of Plainview. Operators and owners of this store have been Mrs. Lambeth; Julian and Mary Strater; Mr. and Mrs.Tex House; Mr. and Mrs. Orvil Best; Mr. and Mrs. Del Burch. And is now owned and operated as a Quick Shop and Package Liquor store.
Mr. Abraham Schultz operated a blacksmith shop north of the railroad crossing. He operated the business from 1860 to around 1890. Mr. Shultz made wagons, buggies, and plows along with doing blacksmithing and repair for the local public. The Smalley family then operated the blacksmith shop and continued the business for several years.
Bob Roach also operated an implement business and blacksmith shop until about 1920. He sold Studerbaker wagons and buggies and also operated an automobile agency selling Overland automobiles.
About 1920 Rrosco Newby erected a new building north of the railroad crossing and operated a blacksmith and machine shop. Later, Everett Newby operated the machine shop. A part of this building was converted into living space for a few years and then Mrs. Leo Drew operated a resale and antique shop on weekends in this building.
Other business that have been operated in Plainview since the turn of the century includes a store, pool hall and ice cream parlor owned by Kent Wadsworth. It was sold to and was operated by Lester Armour, who in turn sold it to Robert Rhoads who operated it until it was destroyed during the elevator fire in 1924. At one time, Frank Wadsworth operated a hardware store, and for a short period of time also operated a funeral home. J. B. Rhodes operated a butcher shop where the Jefferson Rhodes house now stands. At the corner of First Street and West Street, the Ambrose family operated a hotel and furnished meals to accommodate traveling salesmen traveling through the village and community.
Doctors who have practiced in Plainview over the years include Dr. Charles Murphy, Dr. W. J. Easley, Dr. J. M. Burwash, and Dr. W. J. Donahue, and. Dr. N. Jones. Mrs. Jones gave piano lessons and taught music to children around Plainview.
Edward Gray, James Buzzon and Happy Lutz have been barbers. Garth Rodgers was a drayman and hauled freight and coal. M. M. Howerton was a trucker hauling milk, livestock grain and coal for farm people in the community. Elmo Meyers also hauled milk and grain locally. Mr. and Mrs. Erschell Matthews operated a filling station and garage at the north edge of Plainview from 1955 to 1969.
Many years ago, around 1895, a village correspondent wrote this poem about Plainview and sent it to the editor of a Carlinville newspaper where it was published in the weekly newspaper.
AS ONE SEES PLAINVIEW
Were you ever at Plainview,
On the railroad C and A?
It's a nice little village,
And it's sure to stay.
As you enter the city,
Just back down the street,
Is Uncle Jim Collins,
A bachelor neat.
Who will tie up your coffee,
Hand you a cigar-
He's dreadful polite,
As most bachelor's are.
On a little way further,
On the opposite side,
Are Otwell and Shanner,
Whose fame is quite wide.
For serving their customers,
With quickness and style,
And you have a nice visit,
With this firm all the while.
Then again we cross over,
To a well 'pointed store,
With a granitold porch,
In front of the door.
Which is always covered with,
Men quite a few,
Unless there's a whistle,
From a train that is due.
And the merchant inside,
Is the long man of the town,
As gentlemanly man,
As ever was found.
He is a man very quiet,
Not over much to say,
You will note from the sign,
It's the store of Lemay.
We now here turn the corner,
For a nice little walk,
And you will find the barber,
Who does like to talk.
While you lay quietly back,
In his tonsorial chair,
Ed Gray soon shaves you clean,
And perhaps clip your hair.
Boyle, the grain man,
Is just a little way on,
He buys your wheat,
And also your corn.
Likewise your hogs,
Your cattle, Your sheep,
And settles for same,
In a check so neat.
We now turn back,
Our walk in not over,
And arrive in front,
Of the postmaster's door.
E. L. Wilton is the postmaster,
He is always so trim,
He is perfectly harmless--
Don't be afraid of him.
He will hand you a soda,
While you wait for your mail,
Again you resume your,
Newly made trail.
Next place in your wake,
Is Hotel De Ambrose,
Who's eating is fine,
And as good as ever goes.
Now you will soon reach the doctor's,
Just a little way west,
So neatly ensconced,
In a wee little nest.
Surrounded by bottles,
On shelves reaching high,
Not long do you wait,
For the doctor is nigh.
Hello! Says the doctor,
In his rich, mellow voice-
He is a doctor that makes,
All his patients rejoice.
Of pain he is a connoisseur,
All ailments they stray,
If with Donahue your doctor,
Life's policies don't pay.
Walt Kahl is the agent,
With aids quite a few,
And if there's a message,
It's soon handed to you.
If a house you are building,
Which you want quickly done,
Either call on Sam Haycraft,
or Hooley and son.
Your baggage is carried,
To the train nice and slick,
By young Francis Foster,
And he does it so quick.
Young Smalleys they are,
The smiths of the town,
Over on the east side,
And easily found.
They shoe your horses,
Sharpen your plow,
They are the boys that can do it,
For they both know how.
Your buildings are painted,
By one, Johnnie Roach,
The work of this painter,
Is hard to approach.
The mayor of Plainview,
Is a man of the town,
He is quite a hustler,
And is always around.
From sunrise to sunset,
And away after dark,
His eye is on those,
That get on a lark.
Churches they have--,
In number a few,
And regular services,
In these Churches, two.
The singing is grand,
With voices so sweet,
The choir of Plainview,
Are so hard to beat.
Now do come to Plainview,
Don't your visit delay,
It's just south of Carlinville,
On the railroad C and A.
Plainview's population has continued to decline until today it has a population of around 120 people. There are about thirty-five residences in the village. The post office is now closed and mail now is delivered from the post office in Shipman. Only the Baptist Church remains and it has a growing membership. The Masonic Hall still functions, and the only business in town is the J and S Tire Shop and a Quick Stop and Package Liquor Store. Both of these business are owned by Jan and Steve Menninger. Rural water was extended to the village in the summer of 2000, furnishing residences with pure potable water for use and drinking instead of from shallow and often contaminated wells.
During the great depression of the 1930's, times were hard, money was scarce and many people were without work. Following the passage of the Federal Public Works Act in 1935, the WPA took over operation of a rock quarry being operated by William Alward two miles northeast of Plainview. This furnished job opportunities of work for those unemployed. While the operation and the labors were not over ambitious, many ton of rock was removed, crushed and applied to local roads making the roads year round farm to market roads.
In 1937 the State of Illinois built the blacktop road between Carlinville and Shipman passing through Plainview. Bituminous was just coming into use as a road surface and the road was built by the State as an experimental road. Each one half mile of the subsurface was made of a different type of soil or mixture of soil types. Also different mixtures of bituminous were used on the surface. The cost of the highway was several times what it would have cost to lay down a concrete pavement. Upon completion the road was considered one of the most modern in the State because of its wide sweeping curves. Today we consider the road crooked, rough, slick, and dangerous.
The early settlers took politics religiously. In September 1856 a political rally was held here in Plainview with most of the surrounding population in attendance. Thomas L. Harris and Captain John Palmer, both contenders for the seat of U. S. Senator were scheduled speakers. Both men managed to discredit opposition while speaking, and finally when Captain John Palmer made an unkind remark directly to Thomas Harris, Harris became enraged and took a swing at Palmer and the men started fighting and had to be separated by their friends. Captain Palmer was from Carlinville and later served as Governor of Illinois.
Severe windstorms have struck the area at various times over the years. The most disastrous storm occurred on May 18, 1883 when a tornado passed closely to the south and east of Plainview, leaving a path of destruction and death. On that day the states of Missouri, Illinois and Indiana were hit with over one hundred tornadoes. Sixty-one people were killed in Illinois. The storm as it passed over Macoupin County was considered one of the severest storms that was ever known to pass over this vicinity to that date. The terrible roar of the storm could be heard for miles.
The home of Joseph Bullman (Grothaus home now) one-mile southwest of Plainview in which there were six women was blown to pieces. Miss Constant Bullman was severely injured, while the others escaped with slight injuries. The Bullman orchard and barn was totally destroyed.
From there, the tornado proceeded to the farm of E. S Combs. The tornado passed a little to the south of the Combs house taking the orchard, barn, and all out buildings, damaging the house badly, taking chimneys, etc. and entirely clearing a parlor of pictures and bric-a-brac, but nobody was injured.
The next house struck was the residence of M. M. Gulick (now known as the Pitman farm). The house was completely demolished along with the out buildings and a beautiful grove of trees that surrounded it. There were eight persons in the house, all of who escaped without extreme injury with a daughter Sadie Gulick receiving the most serious injury. Mr. Gulick lost several valuable horses, cows, and other livestock.
The next in line was the Edward Maxwell's house. (Now the David Haley home.) The house was a total wreck, fortunately nobody was home at the time.
The storm continued on a northeastern path and next visited Mr. Daniel Carole whose house was leveled to the ground. After leaving Carole's, the tornado destroyed a vacant house belonging to J. M. Foster. (Jeff Cox lives here now) From there it passed through the woods leaving a mass destruction of mangled timber until it reached the farmstead of George Baker, (south of where Lake Catatoga is now), there being no other houses in its course. Mrs. Baker and two grand daughters were killed. Two other family members were seriously injured.
The next house of Mr. William Tosh was nearly blown down, (This was one half mile south of Deffenbaugh corner) but the family had taken refuge in a cave near by and were not injured. The next house was the residence of Mr. Frank Rice containing eleven persons. It was completely leveled and Mrs. Rice was killed, the others escaped with slight injuries.
The tornado continued across Brushy Mound and Shaws Point Townships causing destruction, injury, and killing three additional persons as it traveled across those townships. The path was four rods wide and everything for rods along each side were sucked into the whirl. Because of this killer storm, many residence in the community built outdoor storm caves as shelters that summer.
The settlement of Centerville located in the south part of the township sprang up around the old stage road. Centerville was so called because it was centrally located, bound to the north by Plainview, to the east by Dorchester, to the south by Bunker Hill and Woodburn, and to the west by Shipman. It is about five miles from each of these towns. Centerville was the scene of varied activities before its gradual decline, which began after 1852 after the coming of the railroad and the termination of the stage line passing through the village. There was a stage stop in front of the Church, a livery stable, mail service, the families of Drake, Bullman, and Edsall preformed blacksmith service. The general store was run by the Barns', Taylor's, and Brakam's. A part of the store at one time was devoted to millinery. It was here in Centerville where a young fellow by the name of Daniel Drew, newly arrived from Cork, Ireland, while driving the stage line between Alton and Peoria, met Mary Fleming who worked at selling millinery in the store. They were married and shortly settled on a farm northwest of Plainview. From this marriage came forth the many, many descendents now totaling several hundred people that populate the Plainview, Shipman, Chesterfield, Brighton, Carlinville and Gillespie communities.
Centerville even had a veterinary, William Hoover, at one time. It is told that Abraham Lincoln while traveling the old stage road stopped at the Bullman property north of the Church in Centerville and drank from the well, a well use by many travelers in those days.
Today, all that is left of the village is the Church, a community hall and the old school building which has been converted into a residence and is the home of Dick and Nelda Edsall.
During 1956 the Royal lakes Property was plated and laid out into lots in section 26 and 27. Three small lakes were constructed and named Shad, Shadrack, and Meschack. In 1973 the village was incorporated and took the name of Royal Lakes.
The schools that were located in the Plainview area were: Plainview school which was a two room school and at one time was taught through the tenth grade; Pleasant Grove was east of Plainview; Snedeker Grove was southeast of town; Corrington Chapel was east of the route 16-159 junction; Centerville school was in Centerville; Hopewell was northwest of Plainview. All of these schoolhouses with the exception of Hopewell were made into homes after being sold by the new consolidated Unit School District in 1952. Hopewell was purchased and moved a mile east to the highway and made into a tavern. Later the building was added onto and operated as a restaurant and tavern. The Plainview school continued to operate as a grade (1-6) school until it was finally closed in 1956. That building was converted into a home which burned in 1999. A new home was then built on the site.
When the early settlers first arrived, there were no markets for farm products in this area. Each family usually raised what ever was needed to survive. Corn and wheat were of little value because it was impossible to move these grains to a market area. The grain raised that wasn't made into flour, corn meal, or brew for use by the family was fed to hogs and cattle and livestock was of little value. Occasionally if someone did raise a large crop of wheat or oats, he would haul the crop by ox pulled wagon to Alton where there was usually a market. However, often this three or four day trip did not prove economical. Sometimes a small crop of tobacco was raised and the dried leaves could be bundled and taken by horse back to Edwardsville.
In early days the livestock was usually allowed to roam loose in the country. When a field was fenced, it was usually fenced to keep livestock out of the field, --not in. Hogs from different farms were sometimes combined into groves and driven to Alton where they were sold and slaughtered. The first valuable crop derived from the soil in Hilyard Township was earned from raising casterbeans and having the beans pressed into oil. Casterbean oil was the principal lubricant in use until 1854 when petroleum oil was first taken from the earth in Pennsylvania and this oil became a cheap replacement for the costly casterbean oil.
Between 1830 and 1855 there were seven casterbean oil crushing plants in the southern part of Macoupin County. Those who raised casterbeans in Hilyard took their crop to either Bunker Hill or Woodburn to be processed. This oil was worth about two dollars a gallon.
After 1855 petroleum products took over the market and as petroleum oil sold for only a few cents a gallon, it was no longer profitable to raise casterbeans.
With the coming of the railroad in 1852, transportation opened a market for crops and produce from this area. Livestock then became a profitable operation. Wheat could now be milled into flour locally, packed into barrels and shipped elsewhere.
As urban populations grew, an increasing demand for meat product came about and corn soon became the main tilled crop. Oats was in demand as horse feed. Soybeans were raised only for hay until World War II, when with an increase need for vegetable oil, soybean production became profitable.
Each year following, technology developing new products has placed greater demand for soybeans until today soybean acreage equals the acreage of corn being produced.
In May 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Administration Act. The passing of the Act enabled REA electrical power to be eventually made available to this community. On May 16, 1940, customers in Plainview and surrounding area were served with electrical power. Rural electrification now ranks as the major force. Electricity along with all weather roads, modernization of automobiles, trucks, farm tractors and machinery, radios, TV, telephones, computers, Internet, and ample wealth with which to buy the necessaries and luxuries of life are motivating factors in the upward trend that characterize life in the community today.
Included with this history are a few humorous newspaper clippings that I have taken while researching from old issues of the County newspapers. These were written by local correspondent's one hundred years or more ago. Humor was one of the basics of life then as now.
Plainview - March 10, 1874
"We think the premium should be awarded to William and Abe Showalter and Fred and James Wilkins as the champion turkey hunters of Macoupin County. On the 7th they killed 24 Wild turkeys. John Tunnel who lives five miles from the scene of action had a fine lot of bronze turkeys stray away and we would not be surprised if John's turkeys had not wondered in that direction."
Wagoner Prairie - May 6, 1879
"I ask, will a lady or gentleman laugh and whisper during religious service?" Then we have some that are not ladies and gentlemen, for they act like they have been raised in the backyard and nursed by a bear. The boys can't help making a noise with their feet, for they are so large, and they can't keep from running in and out during worship. And the young women like to be called ladies, but when you look around anytime and see their wary shinning, do you call that lady like? Yea - no, it is a disgrace! Then young people, quit this and be ladies and gentleman.
Shipman - June 10, 1880
"The ladies of the Presbyterian Church held an ice cream and
festival, the proceeds for the benefit of the Church.
A box of strawberries were put up at auction at the festival just as one young man and his girl entered the door, and he immediately bid "a quarter". The auctioneer immediately cried,"sold", without waiting for another bid.When the fellow found out he had only got one box of strawberries for the quarter, he felt so bad over it that he went and sat down and ate every one of them - he was bound to have the worth of his money. We saw him give one away, but that was all.
Macoupin Station - 1 June 1883
Mrs. Chastine was doing housework when the team came running up to the door. Thinking her son was injured, she hurriedly preambled towards the creek where he was working at cutting wood and stumbled and fell in some brush and briars and was slightly injured, but kept on looking for her son and found him -taking a bath in the creek. The moral of the story is - before taking a bath, tie up the team.
Pleasant Grove - Sept. 1883
Every Sunday evening the thoroughfares of the vicinity are traversed by the gay and young couples from adjoining parts. We like to see them enjoying themselves, but it makes us sad to think how our forefathers had to walk all day Sunday just to look in the window of his intended and then walk back at night. Aren't we glad our lot has been cast in the modern land of buggies and like advantages?
I would like to thank the following persons for information given to me through oral history: Walter Frank; William Witt; James Witt; Osa Wadsworth; Mike and Violet Howerton; and Jefferson Rhodes. Other information was taken from old newspaper publications published in Macoupin County.
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