Shipman History, Macoupin County IL
©2000 Jim Frank
(Volunteer typists for the History of Shipman: Pamela Thing Bane of FL, Marsha Ensminger of CA, Gloria Frazier of MO (proofreader), Marita Gladson of CA, Harriett Holly of AZ, Sue McMurry of MO, Melissa Springer Robards of NV, Jo Weaver of OK, Matt Weismantel of NJ, Ellan West of WA.)
(Jim had presented his History of Shipman at a Macoupin County Historical
Thank you, Jim, for contributing your History of Shipman to the Macoupin County IL page.
History of Shipman Macoupin County IL
by Jim Frank
Following the Revolutionary War our country was nearly broke and needed additional funds to pay the war debt.
At this time, the state of Virginia lay claim to all of the land lying west of Virginia reaching to the Mississippi River. This land known as the Indian Territories was ceded by Virginia to the Federal Government. Since much of this land was now free of Indian settlement, Congress decided to survey this land and sell the land to migration for settlement. The Indian Territories later became the states of Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.
The land, following a survey, was offered for sale at $1.25 an acre and offered for sale in lots of 640 acres. At this time, most common people had very little money and could not afford to buy land in this large of a tract. Very little of the land sold and most of what was sold was bought by wealthy businessmen from eastern cities and wealthy people and land companies in Europe as speculation.
Around 1800, our government then offered the land in 320 acre tracts, but most people still could not afford to purchase this amount of acreage. The policy was changed and smaller tracts of 80 and 160 acres were offered to be sold on the installment plan. A person could pay one-fifth down and take possession of the land and each year pay an additional one-fifth as the farm was being improved. No interest was charged. The land agents extended the law and allowed purchases as small as 40 acres.
Some settlement and purchase of land took place in extreme southern Illinois after 1800, but it wasn't until following the War of 1812 that the Indians were driven from this part of the state and settlement started in earnest here.
The first known settler moved into Macoupin County about 1815 and some settlement continued after that, but it was nearly 1830 before much of the land here was being purchased for settlement. During the ten years after 1830 most of the land in Macoupin County had been purchased and entered for settlement.
We now come to the history of Shipman.
History of Shipman
The first settler to settle near Shipman was David Coop and his family who settled near Coop's Creek east of Shipman in 1815. After residing there a few years, the family moved to Coop's Mound east of Carlinville. In 1818, Thomas Smith settled near Shipman, but soon moved and settled in Chesterfield Township.
Government land was offered for $1.25 an acre. The first land around Shipman purchased and entered was by Benjamin Steidman, a former resident of Edwardsville. He settled in 1831 one mile west and one mile north of Shipman. He found the land very fertile and capable of growing enormous crops. The level country was covered with prairie grass, often reaching the height of four or more feet, while the rough and hilly country was covered with timber.
In 1834, the George Randle's and sons Smith and Edward, Nimrod Dorsey's, Aaron Arnold's and Elina Edward's came from Madison County and entered land and settled around Shipman. Dorsey settled the land here where Shipman is now and George Randle settled just north of Shipman. George Randle was a son-in-law of A. Arnold. Aaron Arnold settled on the northwest edge of Shipman.
From an old copy of an article printed years later in the Shipman Record, a newspaper printed in Shipman for a short duration in the 1870's, we read, "Aaron Arnold and Geo. W. Randle and others came to this prairie from Edwardsville to enter land in 1834. The lonely prairie offered but few inducements to these newcomers, other than prospect of speculating in wild land, hence only two of their numbers remain. Aaron Arnold and Geo. W. Randle, decided to remain and at once to take up land and make their homes here."
During 1836, a railroad was surveyed from Springfield to Alton following somewhat the same route of the present railroad right of way. New families were arriving and constantly settling. George Randle purchased from Dorsey and surveyed a twenty acre site along the proposed railroad right of way and platted a village a mile north of Shipman which he named Brooklyn. This plat advertisement appeared in the May 25, 1836 issue of the Alton Telegraph newspaper - "Public sale of lots on Saturday, June 25th, 1836. The Town of Brooklyn is situated on Section 24 in the County of Macoupin directly on the surveyed route of the comtemplated railroad from Alton to Springfield. The town located in the healthy part of the county, is a high and rolling prairie immediately south of Coop's Creek, and is in the vicinity of large quantities of good coal, limestone, and freestone. It is 15 miles from Carlinville, 18 miles from Alton, about 28 miles from Grafton, and 20 miles from Hillsboro, being in a straight line between the two last mentioned places. The land in the vicinity is of the first quality and settling rapidly with enterprising farmers, it is well supplied with timber. The advantages which this town promises in regards to the richness of the soil, being situated so near Alton, it will readily be perceived, must be a place of worthy the attentions of capitalists, merchants, mechanics, and manufactures. Liberal donations will be made of sites and town lots by the proprietors for the erection of churches and a seminary. Any persons wishing to purchase lots in the above town will please apply to the proprietors living in Carlinville or Mr. Arnold or Mr. Steadman living in the town. Good and indisputable titles will be made to purchasers. There will be a public sale of lots on the premises on Saturday the 25th day of June. Geo. D. Randle, Wm. Miller, Bela White, Proprietors."
There were very few takers, as the financial crisis of 1837 suspended the building of the railroad. Mr. Randle erected and began operating a store in his village, bringing overland the first stock of goods to this area. Eventually, Brooklyn consisted of a store with a meeting hall above it. A Methodist church building was built in 1836 where school was taught, a black smith shop operated by a Mr. Isaac Bernett, and there were about four other dwellings in the village. The first dwelling was built by Geo. W. Robins, the first Methodist minister of the church in Brooklyn. Mail was secured from Woodburn six miles southeast across the prairie.
Stephen Green purchased 405 acres of land from the government in 1839 in Section 30 at the south east edge of Shipman. He proceeded to raise the first crop of any size grown in the area. The crop consisted of about 25 acres of wheat which had to be cut with a cradle which took several days. After the wheat had been thrashed, all that was not wanted for seed and local use in the neighborhood was hauled to Alton with oxen. The crop sold for $.50 a bushel.
In 1843, Aaron Arnold sold his land for five dollars an acre and died soon after while on a trip to Kentucky visiting relatives.
In 1848, Mr. Dorsey sold his land to Henry Law for $25 an acre (This land is now where Shipman stands). Henry Law owned 640 acres.
Also, in 1848, Stephen Green and Mr. Merriweather, both large farm owners, purchased the first reaper ever brought to this area. The reaper which cost $150 was shipped direct from the McCormick factory in Chicago by way of the new Illinois canal to the Illinois River and then down to Alton. From Alton, it was brought over land by wagons to the Green farm where four days were spent assembling the parts. When it was in operation in the field, crowds of people from miles around came to watch the machinery work. That year several hundred acres of wheat and oats were cut, the reaper reported doing excellent time and labor saving work. The following year, Henry Law hired this reaper to cut a large field of oats on the present site of Shipman.
In the fall of 1848, a group of delegates from the Shipman area attended a conference held in Hillsboro to persuade the proposed Indianapolis Central Railroad to run their tracks to Alton instead of St. Louis. While in attendance the men were entertained by a brass band. After hearing the band play, a group of young men from the Shipman locality decided to form their own band. After some practice, the band become famous and was often hired to play in Springfield, Alton, and St. Louis.
In 1858, this advertisement appeared in the Carlinville Free Democrat Newspaper. "Shipman Sax Horn Band - recently purchased an entire new set of the most approved instruments and provided with choice selections of the latest music by most eminent composers, adapted for all occasions, hold themselves in readiness to answer call for service. Contact T. C. Meatyard - Shipman."
The ad ran in the newspaper for several months and an article in the Carlinville newspaper stated, "We have heard them since they provided themselves with new instruments and their performance compare favorably with many other bands found only in big cities. Their effects are highly creditable to themselves."
Another somewhat amusing advertisement that first appeared May 26, 1858 in the Carlinville Free Democrat that same summer read, "A young man twenty four years of age is desirious of opening correspondence with some lady not over 20 years old who is possibly good looking and respectably connected. Money is no object. Though he does not pride himself upon his personal charm, is thought by many to be good looking. He is a mechanic, has a good business and steady employment, is temperate and industrious and has a thousand dollars in cash. Address Alfred Clifton, Shipman, Macoupin County. This ad caused quite a stir in its day.
In the next issue of the Carlinville newspaper, the editor states, "We learn Mr. Clifton has already received application for the post he offers, but presume there is yet a chance for others." The ad ran for two months in the newspaper. After the advertisement first appeared, the Alton Telegraph carried an article chiding Mr. Clifton of Shipman for advertising for a lady companion in an indignant way.
By 1848, the Sangamon-Alton railroad was again surveyed from Alton to Springfield and during the years 1851 and 1852 the railroad was built. The first steam engines were wood burning and water for the steam engines was pumped by windmill from a well in Shipman. The steam engines also took on wood here.
Mr. Samuel Randle, in his autobiography of his early life while living on a farm at the north edge of Shipman, states, "Soon track of the new railroad was laid and the engine drawing the construction train came into the little town of Shipman where a little store and other buildings were being erected. On that first day, when the whistle sounded and the steam hissed long and loud, I with many other boys of the neighborhood hurried to see the wonderful thing that had come to town. It was a great event in our young lives. But a few weeks passed when the first passenger train passed through to Carlinville and our county seat. From then on, the Chicago and Alton railroad became a common necessity."
In 1852, that part of Shipman which lies east of the railroad was sold to John Shipman and John L. Roberts for $40 an acre from Henry Law. John Shipman had been an engineer in construction of the railroad. They with the aid of George Halliday, a surveyor, platted the town. Shipman, Roberts, and Law each wanted the town to be named after themselves. They drew lots in a card game to see if the town would be named Lawton, Roberton, or Shipman. John Shipman won.
Leonard Loveland erected the first store building and opened a stock of groceries. A Mr. Phillips built the first dwelling house. In 1853, John R. Denny and Robert Meatyard erected the second store and began general merchandizing. They had operated a General Store in Piasa and decided to move to Shipman as the railroad was being built at this location. A third merchandizing business was opened by I. and E. Green. A Post Office opened in 1853 with Robert Meatyard as Postmaster in his store. Robert Meatyard served as Post Master for about 25 years.
After the railroad came in, everyone increased their acreage of wheat. There was a good demand for wheat at the mills in Alton. A few years later a flour mill was erected in Shipman where the wheat could then be sold locally to be milled and shipped out as flour in barrels.
In 1851, there was a serious outbreak of cholera in Macoupin County, especially in the towns and railroad camps along the railroad. At that time there were several cholera deaths in Shipman, and Carlinville lost one fifth of its population to cholera. In the cholera epidemic in Shipman, the first person to die was a Mr. Talman. He was a new blacksmith who had just moved to Shipman and set up in business. He died within a few hours of being stricken. His wife and baby both came down with cholera at the same time as he did. The baby died, but the wife recovered. Two women without dependent families were asked to volunteer to take care of the Talmans. One of those soon died; the other became ill but recovered. A woman who had been doing washings for the Talmans also died. Several other people living in Shipman died including the rail road construction workers boarding in a home in Shipman. An estimated 80 to 200 deaths from cholera occurred to railroad construction workers working on the railroad between Plainview and Carlinville. You can imagine the fear this deadly epidemic imposed on the daily lives at that time.
The following year the ague or malicacin fever [malaria] was very prevalent around Shipman. Although caused by mosquitoes, it was thought at that time it was an illness that followed the breaking of the prairie soil and everyone at some time would come down with it. Often ague would leave a weakened condition of the body and gradually ended in death. While at this time, they still didn't know what caused the illness; it was found it could be treated by quinine.
1854 was a year of extreme drought. The corn crop around Shipman was a complete failure. However, the wheat and oat crop was fair. The drought forced grain prices to an eighteen year high. Wheat was bringing $1.50 a bushel, corn $.40, and potatoes $1.50 a hundred weight, but few people had anything to sell. Grain prices remained good until 1857, so the drought was followed by two prosperous years. But in 1857, another financial panic hit the country and the bottom fell out of all prices. Also in 1857, a small pox epidemic hit the Shipman community and again there was much illness in the area and loss of life.
In 1854, Shipman's first doctor, Dr. Trabue, came to Shipman and
built a residence where the city park is now. This was the first house
built on the west side of the railroad tracks. Dr. Trabue was brother-in-law
of Henry Law. Dr. M. M. Seeman and Dr. Gilson set up practice later in
the year. Dr. Seeman had moved to Shipman from New York state in 1853,
but taught school the first year before starting his practice as a doctor.
The First Presbyterian Church organized in 1856. This church was a branch of the Presbyterian Church in Plainview. Soon after organization, the members erected a church building in the east part of town. Membership in the Presbyterian body dwindled throughout the following years and eventually the Church would disband. In the June 3, 1880, edition of the Carlinville Democrat the Shipman correspondent wrote, "The ladies of the Presbyterian Church had an ice cream and strawberry festival. The proceeds for the benefit of the Church. A box of strawberries was put up for auction at the festival. Just as one young man and his girl entered the door, he immediately bid "a quarter" and the auctioneer cried "sold" without waiting for another bid. When the fellow found out he only got one box for a 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."
During the years 1857-1859 Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas were
great debaters in Springfield and people came from Jerseyville and Litchfield
to take the train to Springfield to hear the great speakers. A four acre
lot across the railroad track from the depot hardly could hold all the
horses and wagons that were left there while the owners went to Springfield
on the train to attend the debates. In the election for President between
Lincoln and Douglas, Macoupin County voted heavily for Douglas.
The spring of 1858 was very wet and the main traveled road between Shipman and Woodburn must have been an obstacle because the correspondent from Shipman wrote in the Carlinville Democrat, "The road from Shipman to Woodburn between Mr. Boans's and Martin Olmstead's is a duckery where ducks should be kept. This is the road at the east edge of Shipman traveling south toward Woodburn."
Things must have gotten a little rough in Shipman at times, as in the May 5, 1858 issue of the Carlinville Democrat we read, "Men, women, and children were drunk and fighting in a grocery store in Shipman. During the fight, a man either jumped or was knocked into a wagon, landing on a young girl, perhaps injuring her. Another woman was knocked down by a chain swung by a man. Immediately, a meeting was called by the citizens of Shipman to adopt measures to regulate the sale of intoxicants in Shipman. M. Taggart, owner of the general store where the fighting took place, was asked to not sell any more intoxicants."
The first school building in Shipman composed of two rooms, was built in 1858. The first teacher in this school was Mr. E. P. Cutler. He had forty pupils and received $40 for his services as a teacher. Prior to building this new school, children in the area that wished to receive an education attended the school a mile north of Shipman at the old site of Brooklyn. That school had been in operation since the late thirties. With the new school in Shipman, the school house at Brooklyn was closed and moved to an adjoining farm and made into a residence.
Until 1858, church had been held in a room over a hardware store operated by a Mr. O'Brien which stood on a lot now occupied by the Masonic Hall. But in that year the Methodist Congregation began to build a church on the lot where the Methodist Church now stands. Before Shipman had been laid out, the Methodists at first attended church in the church-school building in Brooklyn.
Also in 1858, Shipman was hit by a tornado which practically leveled every chimney and several houses. Loss was estimated at $50,000, a lot of money at that time.
During 1859, a brick yard was operated in partnership by Martin Olmstead and A. J. Smalley at the east edge of Shipman where the Catholic cemetery is now. The brick was not of great quality and while several houses and buildings were built of this brick, none remain standing now.
By 1861, party feelings ran high and furious between the elements
of the North and South that had been brewing for several years and finally
accumulated into a Civil War. Although Shipman was a northern town, many
people sympathized with the southern cause because many of the families
in the community had migrated from southern states and their beliefs and
roots were still in sympathy with the south. Some of these people took
part in and were active in secret Copperhead activities. A militia was
organized by Ed Meatyard and was held in readiness should the southern
rebels ever cross over into Illinois. Many young men from the area responded
to the call and fought in the battles in the south, some never to return
home again. Some families were broken when cousins fought on both sides.
According to Earl Shelton's History of Shipman, which he wrote in 1923 as a high school history project, the history states, "During the war, Northerners and Southerners, representing the two causes, each raised a flag pole in Shipman, and after battle, as soon as the news came, victors would raise their flag while the defeated flag remained furled. The flag pole of the northern flag stood where the parking lot of the Shipman Bank is now. Also during the war, Martin Olmsted and A. J. Smalley operated a hay press in Shipman. The Government purchased hay from local farmers and baled hay was shipped south for the feeding of horses and mules used in the war effort. After the war, the press was dismantled and hauled away.
Following the Civil War, many colored families from the south migrated northward and settled around Brighton, Piasa, and Shipman. These people with limited funds purchased small tracts of cheap wooded land that usually lay along the Piasa and Coop Creeks. Several succeeding generations of these families lived two miles north of Shipman on farms. The Negro community north of Shipman supported both a Baptist church and a Methodist church, both churches standing across and slightly down the road from each other, the Methodist Church on the west side and the Baptist Church on the east side. Members of both churches used a cemetery a half mile east on the Magee farm to bury their dead known as the colored cemetery.
A Shipman correspondent wrote in the July 13, 1876 issue of the Carlinville Democrat, "Colored families from four counties gathered near Shipman for a picnic Sunday. However, after dinner, a downpour of rain struck and disrupted the picnic. But, rain was needed worse than a picnic.
In the April 13, 1882, issue of the Carlinville Democrat, a correspondent from Shipman, perhaps feeling some prejudice, wrote, "At a meeting of the voters of the school district, Saturday afternoon, Mr. Alfred Magee (colored) was elected director which results seemed to be causing great indignation among some of the citizens." The Magee families were prominent land owners and stock raisers and were well respected in the community.
In 1864, Mr. Coffee built the brick elevator building now owned by the Shipman Cooperative Elevator Company. The building at first had two stories, but following a fire three years after it was built, it was reroofed and the upper story left off. This building still stands and is used by the Elevator as the grinding and mixing room. Also in 1864, Mr. Joseph Dodson moved to Shipman from Woodburn and built a flour mill north of the Elevator. This mill had a large capacity for a mill of that date, having a capacity of 125 barrels of flour per day. Flour from this mill was shipped to St. Louis and even New Orleans and Boston. The flour mill also operated a cooper's shop, making barrels for shipping the flour and employed twelve men in this enterprise of cutting staves and constructing barrels.
By 1864, Shipman population had swelled to over 500 people and there were business houses lining both sides of the street from the depot to the eastern end of the block. There were also business houses facing Front Street and the railroad.
In 1865, the part of Shipman west of the railroad was surveyed and platted by Mr. Bailey Shultz. In the spring of 1867 Shipman was incorporated and began electing trustees to run the village. Up until incorporation, Ed Meatyard and, later, his son Robert unofficially ran the town.
The Catholic Church was built in 1865 in the northwest part of town. The Catholic cemetery in the southeast part of town was first used about 1885. This church building, a wood structure, burned in 1948 and a beautiful new brick building with a full basement social room was erected following the fire.
In late May of 1869, a disastrous tornado swept into Shipman from the northwest. This tornado started near Chesterfield and passed through Shipman cutting a path of some twenty miles. An account in the Carlinville Democrat describing Shipman during the storm said, "During the few minutes of the storm, a scene of indescribable confusion and consternation reigned supreme. Men, women and children were fleeing for their lives, and shrieking terror as their homes were falling about them or swept from their foundations by the ruthless destroyer. The cries and groans of the horses, cattle and other animals, as their stables and barns were unroofed or they were crushed and buried by falling timbers, were almost deafening. Scarcely a pane of glass on the north and west side of any building is left intact. Chimneys are all gone, homes in ruin and desolation reigns supreme." The newspaper goes on to describe the damage to all the homes and businesses, buildings, and barns in detail. No lives had been lost although there was great loss and several injuries. The new Baptist church that had just nearly been completed in construction was completely destroyed, a part of the roof being carried all the way to Dorchester.
A newspaper called "The Shipman Progress" was edited and published by Mr. W. E. Wilton in 1869. Subscriptions to the newspaper were $l.00 per year, paid in advance. The newspaper soon suspended publishing due to lack of circulation. Another newspaper, The "Shipman Record," was established a few years later, but it, too, soon ceased circulation about 1875.
A soap and candle factory was owned and operated by a Mr. Rhodes and a Mr. Hatcher. Above the factory a saloon was conducted. Cherries being prolific and plentiful that spring in 1869, the saloon keeper purchased cherries and brewed them into an intoxicating drink to be sold to his customers. After fermenting the cherries and extracting the brew, the mash pulp was dumped out onto the street. In this day, hogs were still being allowed to roam at range about town. The hogs finding and eating this delicious concoction soon became so drunk that they could only lay in the street and grunt, refusing to move to the annoyance of everyone trying to pass down the street.
The Candle factory burned after several years of unsuccessful operation.
In the early 1870s, few people were the possessors of carriages: Mr. Nicholas Kahl was the first to bring a modern buggy to Shipman.
People around Shipman used the railroad passenger trains for much of their traveling of distances and to other towns. The annual report of the Chicago and Alton Railroad published in the April 8, 1869, edition of the Carlinville Democrat tells us the previous year there were 5743 boardings of the train in Shipman, paying fares $6,613.10.
In 1870, what was then a peach orchard on his farm was laid out by Mr. Bailey Shultz for use as a cemetery. Mr. Henry Law donated the expense of platting and landscaping this cemetery as a gift to the people of the community. This cemetery is the large Shipman City Cemetery on the north edge of town.
The Lutheran church was organized in 1872. Following organization, the congregation built a frame church in the west part of town. The church which has been remodeled at different times over the years is still serving a large congregation. In the fall of 1874, telegraph service was extended and installed to Shipman.
By 1875, Shipman had grown to a population in excess of over 600 people. But, by 1925, the population had declined to around 400. Today, Shipman again has a population approaching 600 residences.
In 1874, it was found necessary to enlarge the school building by
adding two large rooms. School attendance consisted of almost 200 students.
With the additional space, the school was divided into three departments
with three teachers. At this time, the Masons, which were an active association,
had no hall and they held their meetings in the recitation room of the
school house which was the upstairs hall of the school.
A July 13, 1876, edition of the Carlinville Democrat tells us that Shipman was being plagued by tramps. As many as 75 were in Shipman at one time. Medora and Plainview were also complaining about numerous tramps and the tramps were being arrested and jailed in Carlinville. Shipman had an ordinance that vagrants be fined not less than $3.00 nor more than $100.00 for each offense or face jail sentence.
In 1878, Phenaes H. Smith and his sons Irving and Lester Smith built a cheese and butter factory which they operated for several years.
That same year in 1878, a coal shaft was sunk by Ed Meatyard. The shaft was dug about a half mile southwest of the depot along the railroad track. Shares in the mine were sold for $50 a share and local citizens invested approximately $2000 of the $5000 it cost to sink and build the shaft. Mr. Meatyard was left standing with the remaining cost of about $3000 to build the mine. Little coal was ever mined, and the investors sold their investment below par to John Boswell who had intentions of operating the mine, but then a law was passed requiring coal mines to have an air escape. This would cost at least another $1000, plus the fact that the C and A Railroad required another $1000 to build a switch to the mine. Because of lack of funds, the mine was abandoned and finally the buildings were torn down and the machinery disposed of.
On September 3, 1894, fire spread among the buildings along the south side of the street in the business district. Strong south winds soon spread the flames across the street and soon the buildings on the northside of the street were also ablaze. The only building to survive the fire was the old hotel which stood at the west end of the street. Immediately following the fire, new store buildings were erected, - most of these buildings being built of brick. However, some of these buildings were again destroyed by fire in 1921.
The following year in 1895, fire destroyed the depot. The Depot stood
between the railroad tracks, just north of the Keating Street crossing,
but when it was built back, it was built on the east side of the tracks
facing the main street of the business district.
Also in 1895, the Shipman Banking Company was organized with a capital of $15,000. Principle stock holders were the owners of a bank in Girard headed by a Mr. Medcalf. The bank built and operated is the old brick building still standing at the corner of Keating and Front Street at the railroad crossing.
Because of dwindling membership, 1896 saw the disbandment of the Presbyterian Church. The church building was sold and made into a dwelling.
The Shipman Telephone Company was organized October 5, 1903. Mr. W. A. Fischer, operator of the lumber and coal company, was the first man in Shipman to own a phone, and had owned his phone for five years before a telephone company was organized. Shelton's account of early Shipman states: "At this time people used to loaf in Mr. Fischer's office just to hear the one side of a telephone conversation. One man said he heard this one day. The phone rang and Fischer answered. Hello! Yes! Alright! Goodbye. Hanging up the phone he then turned and said, "Just see what it cost me to own a phone. My wife just ordered me to bring home beefsteak for dinner. If I had not had a phone, I wouldn't have to go buy the meat."
In 1904, Mr. Joseph Dodson sold his grain and elevator business to Mr. F. S. Shultz and retired from active business. Mr. Shultz proceeded to operate the grain business and elevator the next fifteen years.
In 1907, the Union Dairy Company of St. Louis built a milk receiving creamery station along the railroad track and local farmers could now deliver conveniently cans of fresh whole milk for processing delivery to the Dairy in St. Louis. Although in following years the creamery was owned by various St. Louis milk companies, the creamery was in operation many years until about 1930 when it became more convenient to convert to truck transportation the delivery of milk. The last owner of the receiving creamery was the Pevely Dairy Company of St. Louis.
Since the beginning of Shipman, saloons had been open to the public, but in 1909 voters approved the closing of the saloons. After Prohibition Shipman again had a couple of saloons until vote voted dry about 1938. It has remained dry since.
The first automobile to be owned by a Shipman resident occurred in 1909. Mr. Samuel French became the first man in Shipman to own an automobile. According to Shelton's 1923 History of Shipman, "He purchased it in Alton and he and J. W. Archer drove it home. They started out from Alton inexperienced but arrived in Shipman real experienced drivers and boosters, as they had to boost it up most of the hills."
The town board in 1913 decided to install gas lights in the village. They bought fifteen gas lights and set them about the town. This made Shipman beautiful at night and the light reflection in the sky could be seen from miles away. The lights were a great expense to the town to operate and maintain and were not used after about three years.
The Methodist church was remodeled in 1913. Sunday school rooms were added to one side of the church and a choir loft added to the other. Curved walnut pews were added to the sanctuary.
1916 saw the dedication of Shipman's new park and pavilion.
By 1917, the school house had deteriorated to a condition almost
beyond use, and a new three floor school was built on five acres of land
purchased from Mr. W. A. Fisher for $1000. The new school cost the district
$20,000 to erect. Also this same year, the Lutheran congregation remodeled
their church building and by raising the building three feet were able
to add a basement to use as a social room. New pews were installed at this
By 1918, the United States was involved in World War I. Approximately fifty young men responded to the Selective Service Draft, and many of the men were sent to fight in France. Some did not return. Also in 1918, many Shipman residences were victims of the flu epidemic that was ravaging this country. Death took a great toll from this epidemic, especially in the army camps.
The first person to own a Delco lighting system in the city of Shipman was Mr. E. C. Wiegand in the year 1918. This modern lighting system drew a lot of interest by the town people after it was installed. Many of the stores soon installed a Delco system to take advantage of this lighting system.
In 1919, Mr. Shultz sold his grain business and elevator to a group of Shipman farmers for $6000. The farmers purchased stock in the company and the company named itself the Shipman Cooperative Elevator Company. The first year of operation was a successful year and the profit was returned to the owners as a 100% interest dividend. With this great financial return, other farmers asked to buy stock. The Cooperative soon found out they couldn't pay 100% stock dividends as that left no operating cash. After that first year, they learned to pay a modest but reasonable stock dividend. Every year since organization in 1919, the company has paid a stock dividend except for a couple of years during the depression.
In 1920, about thirty citizens formed the Shipman Canning Company Cooperative. They built a building in the northwest part of town and for several years canned tomatoes, corn and other vegetables. The plant had a capacity of producing about 1500 cans a day. The canning factory operated for several years and then closed. The company found it could not compete with trade name companies.
A number of citizens together bought out the Shipman Banking Company in 1920 for $12,500 and the new bank became known as the Shipman State Bank. A disagreement soon evolved among the new owners, and a part of the body drew away and formed another bank. One bank was known as the Shipman State Bank and the other was the People's State Bank. The Peoples State Bank premises was in a remodeled drugstore where the present bank is now. There being not enough business to support the two banks, the banks six years later merged together in 1926 and became the Citizens State Bank of Shipman which survives today. Mr. Bill Kelsey began working for the Shipman State Bank in 1925 and retired in 1992, following 67 years of continuous service at this bank. The bank merged with the Carlinville National Bank holding company in 1998 and continues to operate in Shipman as an individual bank.
In 1921, the Shipman business district was again hit by a disastrous fire. The fire started in the C. G. Simpson restaurant and soon spread to consume other buildings along the street. Only the F. J. Sweet general store on that side of the street protected by a thick fire wall was saved by hard work and efforts of the townspeople who responded to the call to help fight the fire.
Since the fire destroyed the two halls used for meetings, dances, and basketball games, the only meeting places left were the churches and the Masonic hall. E. A. Kahl tore down the old hotel by the Depot and erected an empty store building that was used for a meeting hall and as a gym for the high school until 1938 when a new High School was erected containing its own gym. This building is the Community Building now.
Electricity was brought to Shipman in 1929 when CIPS built their lines into town. The Electricity provided residences with many modern conveniences and lucky were the farms that lie along the path of the electric line that ran from town to town. It would be another twelve to fifteen years before farms could utilize the advantage furnished by the Rural Electrification Administration and many areas had to wait until after World War II to have the benefit of electricity.
In the early thirties, the State built Highway 16 through Shipman, connecting the community with Route 111 to the west and Route 4 and 159 to the east. About 1936, the Carlinville-Shipman Blacktop was completed giving Shipman access to Carlinville and a way north.
The depression of the thirties brought hard times to everyone. People had to skimp to get by. Many were unemployed and willing to take work of any kind. The Shipman Bank along with all other banks in the country were ordered to close their doors, but about three weeks later the Shipman Bank being financially sound, was allowed to reopen. Public Works Projects were implemented to provide income to many in need of help. Corn was selling on the grain market as low as 11 to 15 cents per bushel. A wagon load of corn often brought less than $3 for the whole load.
The new High School was built in 1937 and occupied in 1938. This
school included a gym and students no longer had to run through the street
to reach the Kahl building for physical training and sports. The school
building is now used for grades kindergarten through grade six.
In 1938, J. C. Archer established an implement business and became the Allis Chalmers machinery dealer in Shipman. This business was managed later by his son Kenneth and later by a grandson Kenneth Jr. The machinery business closed in 1999.
Macoupin Locker Service of Carlinville organized in 1940 and opened a branch Locker in Shipman in 1944 giving local people a place to process and freeze and store fresh meat and vegetables and fruit to have to consume year round. The Locker Service went into bankruptcy in 1957 and at that time the Shipman Locker was sold to Earl and Bill Shelton. They built a modern slaughter house to serve their customers and this business continued to operate nearly 40 years before closing.
1941-1944 witnessed World War II with many men from the area fighting in the war in Europe and the Pacific.
In July 1946, following the wheat harvest, the main part of the Shipman Elevator collapsed spilling wheat over the area and the railroad tracks. A year later a new concrete elevator was put into operation. The Cooperative Elevator has continued to expand and operate, serving the area farmers with grain marketing, livestock feed, equipment, fertilizer and agricultural chemicals. The Elevator now operates branches in Medora and Greenfield. The Elevator did have a $250,000 fire destroy its operation and bulk chemical building in Shipman in the spring of 1993. Following the fire, the Elevator built a new modern, facility west of Shipman and closed the office and warehouse at the old site.
1948 brought the consolidation of rural schools and the area of Shipman, Piasa, Brighton, Fidelity and Medora were incorporated into School District Unit 9. High school students were bussed between the high schools in Shipman, Brighton and Medora until a new High School and Junior High were built at the junction of Highway 16 and 67 west of Piasa.
The Shipman Kitchen Klatter Band was organized in 1952 by a group of dedicated community ladies. Through their entertainment, they have promoted many improvement projects in Shipman including the hot lunch program in the grade school. They acquired, cleaned up and rebuilt the run down city park and each year sponsor and promote the two day Shipman Picnic and Homecoming. They started the Homecoming in 1956. In 1971, they placed and dedicated a War Memorial in the park in honor of all the soldiers who have served in all the wars including both World Wars, Korean Conflict and Vietnam. In 1976, they moved an old country one room school house into town and refurbished it. It is now used as a Reading Center and Library. They along with Mr. and Mrs. John Stampe have built and provided the community with an outstanding Farm and Home Museum which is open for tours and visitation by the public. The museum was dedicated in 1981. After 41 years, the Kitchen Klatter Band is still entertaining and money earned from their efforts continues to be used for the improvement of the community.
In 1968, a lake was built at the north edge of Shipman to provide the town with water. Also, at the same time, the Central Illinois Power Company provided natural gas lines to homes and businesses in Shipman. During the early eighties, Shipman built a modern sewer system to replace septic tanks and open sewers. Because the water from the city lake later proved not to be of satisfactory quality, in 1999, water was piped to the town and is being purchased from the Jersey Water District.
After having lumber companies serving the community since the conception
of Shipman, the large Becham Family Lumber Company ceased operation and
closed in 1987. The eighties also witness the closing of the last restaurant
in town and the closing of several filling stations. Only one small grocery
store now remains in town as easy transportation now makes shopping in
large nearby towns possible. Convenient shopping elsewhere has eliminated
the small businesses that prospered in the small town in the past. Many
of the people living in and around Shipman work elsewhere such as in Alton,
and even St. Louis, gradually changing the community from a rural farm
community to a rural bedroom community.
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