Franklin County, Illinois
Transcribed by Nanette Riley
Submissions & Photos submitted by:
Nanette RILEY & Russ BROWNING
Buckner was founded and settled in 1850-1860 by a Civil War cavalry man named MOSES BUCKNER, and named after him.
The village was incorporated in 1912.
Post Office was established on 30 Dec 1898.
Buckner is located 5.4 miles west of Benton or 2 miles east of Christopher on Illinois State Route 14.
Town Sign since 1935
The Village of Buckner
And its History.
Originally Named Sofronia
Then Named Lindsey
Submitted & Written by: Russ BROWNING
The first white people to settle in the area which is now known as Franklin County were seven Jordan Brothers and two Browning Brothers and a William Barberry.
They decided to remain as a group for protection against the Indians and to help each other erect their houses. During this period the area was still harboring large populations of hostile Indians and wild animals. The Indians has just emerged from a fierce battle among themselves, in which the tribe of Kaskaskias were defeated and almost annihilated. The first white man to be killed by the Indians in this area was Mr. Barberry. He was out hunting for deer and was discovered by a band of Indians and they killed him and then took his scalp for a trophy.
A few years after the first white settlement had been made, Tecumseh the great chief of the Shawnees began planning for his great Indian Confederacy to drive the white settlers out of the Mississippi valley. He and his advisors made a trip through Southern Illinois to stir up the rest of the Indians against the white settlers.
Governor Ninian Edwards of the Territory of Illinois, sent out word to every settlement to build block houses or forts as a means of protection against the Indians. So the Jordan settlement built a strong fort on what is now the farm of Captain John Ing, and another one on the edge of Williamson county. The latter fort was called Francis Jordan's Fort. Later when the town of Westfrankfort was started they gave it the name of Francis Jordan's Fort. Later the name of Jordan was omitted and they called the place Francis fort, or Franks fort and still later Frankfort.
From about 1812 to 1818 Their were more people in the settlements around Westfrankfort Than any other place in the county.
While living at Jordans Fort in the year of 1812 John Browning built a house on a large hill which was about a mile and half from where I grew up in the town of Buckner Illinois. It was a good hill that had a fine spring at the bottom that produced large amounts of good clear drinkable spring water. The hill was elevated and was an ideal place to raise a family as the ground around it was fertile and would produce good crops. The elevation of the hill was 453ft. and this would make it easily defendable against the hostile Indians.
While living in Jordons Fort, John made several trips to construct a home for his family. When Spring of the year 1812 came John and Nancy Browning headed out across the prairie and the Big Muddy bottoms with all their belongs in an Ox cart. Before the trip was half over they found that Indians were following them on foot and so they made all possible haste and they outran them and got to the top of Browning hill. There Nancy (Kitchen) Browning gave birth to Twins, Jonathon Browning and William Riley Browning. They were the first white children to be born in Franklin county.
The Browning family being first to move into what is now Franklin county was just the first of many families.
The area was now mostly free of Hostile Indians and the remaining ones were not a threat. There was still a flow of settlers coming from the East looking for land that they could claim and the early settlers would settle on land which was later donated to them free of charge this was in the early 1800's.
Deer, wild turkey, and many other smaller game was abundant and the land was fertile and it kept attracting new people to the area for the farm land and the hunting that the area provided and so eventually a small village was formed between the Big Muddy River on the East and Andy's Creek on the West.
It was a small Hunting community that was populated mostly with hunters and trappers. This was around the year of 1860 when deer was very plentiful and the forest in and around the Big Muddy river was an excellent place to hunt. A Mr. Eubanks killed 13 Deer in one day on a early morning hunt. The deer were so plentiful that the settlers would kill at least one a day during the fall. At this time most of the Indians had moved out of the area and it was a relatively safe place to live. More people moved in and the community grew and A railroad was built through the area called the Eldorado Railroad, and with this a small Grocery store was built and on July, 14th . 1880 A post office was established and here was the first town in the area named Sofronia. The town did not prosper and August, 08th . 1895 the post office was closed, the village known as Sofronia was deserted by 1900.
Although Sofronia was no longer a established town or village there were still many farmers in the area and in the same location as Sofronia the population continued to grow. In 1910 George and Janet Lindsay (Linsey) Had a survey (found in Plat Book B page 236 Franklin county court house) done by W. Moore and Mr. Lindsay donated the acreage to the United Coal Mining Co. it was the first plat for a town to be designated as Lindsay (Linsey). “The name had two spellings.”
On July 1911 E.A. Pulliam and Marie Pulliam donated more land to the United Coal Mining Co. It was the Pulliams 1st . addition and to the town of Lindsay (Linsey). On June, 1912 George and Mabel Lindsay (His first wife had passed away) donated additional acreage to the town of Lindsay for the United Coal Mining Company.
At this time J.L. Buckner Wanting the town to be named after his Father Moses Buckner a Civil war veteran, Granted the Illinois Central Railroad the right of passage through his large land holdings only if they would name their Depot Buckner. He also Convinced the new Village board to Name the post office after Moses Buckner and in March, 1914 The Village board under the jurisdiction of the village president B.E. Timousous and signed by the village Clerk Archie Morris officially named the Town Buckner Illinois. Even though the town was officially named Buckner, the northwest area was still called Lindsay.
House of J. L. Buckner Looking down on the town of Buckner.
In all there were over 9 donations of land, and all but the first two withheld the mineral rights and later sold it to the coal mines. The first sinking of a coal mine in Buckner was started on October, 1910. However this was not the first coal that was mined around Buckner, in the year 1882 through 1892 eleven hundred tons of coal was mined from out Croppings of very thin and limited deposits found along Andy’s creek between Valier and Buckner. (of the many times I went swimming in Andy’s creek never once did I think coal had been mined there) On Nov. 10th . 1911 The United Coal and Mining Co. mine number two which was located just East of Buckner, Owned by C.M. Moderwell and co. reached Coal at 458 feet and was in production from that day forward.
The opening of the Mines brought the population of Buckner from just a couple hundred to several hundred. However a lot of the miners did not live in Buckner but Lived in Christopher Illinois and some in East Camp.
There was a passenger train that ran several times a day from Christopher to Buckner and with automobiles almost nonexistent most miners used this train to get to work. In 1917 United Coal and mining co. Sold the mines and all mineral rights to Old Ben coal Corp. and it become Old Ben mine #14.
The word got out that the coal mines in Southern Illinois needed labors so this brought a flood of Immigrants from Russia, Poland, Lithuanian, Italy, Slovonia, Croatia, and Belarus. In 1920 Train after train would pull into the Buckner station with hundreds of immigrants in box cars to work in the coal mines. When they would first arrive they would stay in the taverns located on Market Street (Rado’s Tavern was one of them) as all of the taverns had rooms on the second floor to rent the miners would stay there temporarely. After they found work at the mines, they would take the first check they received and rent a company house from Old Ben. The houses consisted of a front room a kitchen and one bed room. The second check they received was used for transit fare to bring their families to the area.
Some of the houses in Buckner still has a small house setting out in the yard close to the main house, most of them have been torn down by now, but I have noticed a couple of that are still present. These were used for a couple reasons, one was in the summer when it was very hot they used them as a extra kitchen, but the main use for them was so the coal miners could take a bath as there was no shower house at the mine. In the year 1916 one was built to Accommodate 500 miners to take a clean shower after shift work. It was a welcome addition to the life of a coal miner in Buckner but on November 10th . 1924 at 8:00 AM the wash house at Old Ben #14 mine burned to the ground. It was supposed to be fire proof but was completely destroyed by a fire of unknown origin. It was rebuilt but it took a couple years before the new shower house was finished.Buckner had a wide variety of nationalities and although we did get along well and had no problems things were pretty well divided along those lines. The largest hill in town was called Russian hill and that’s where A Russian Orthodox church was built in 1916, it only lasted till July, 12th . 1918 when a fire burned it to the ground. It was rebuilt the same year. There was also a Polish school during this time period but I have no information on it. Buckner had a brass band in 1926 and it consisted of 30 members and was a full band with all the necessary instruments. They played at ball games and school functions. The first Baptist church was built in April, 1920 on land donated by George Lindsay and the Baptist foundation bought the three additional lots for a total of 56 dollars. The wooden church burned down on January, 23rd . 1936 and was rebuilt in its present location with concrete blocks and still stands today. However there has been no church functions there for many years. Buckner had a Lady Chief of Police in Feb. of 1921 named Lissle Overturf and she made the head lines of the Benton evening news by forming a posse and capturing two armed Bandits that robbed a Crap Game in Buckner of 700 dollars.
WOMAN POLICE CHIEF CAPTURES TWO BANDITS
Organizes Posse and Runs Down Two of Four Men Who Robbed a Crap Game
BENTON, Ill., Feb. 16.— Miss Lissie Overturff, Chief of Police at Buckner, near here, this afternoon arrested two of four armed bandits who had held up a crap game and obtained $700 after wounded John Hall, a bystander, in the left arm.
Miss Overturff organized a posse that pursued the quarry several miles into the country. Two of the bandits attempted to hide in a field, but the posse surrounded them and Miss Overturn disarmed them and brought them in.
This is a picture of the first Public school built in Buckner and I believe it was in the year 1916 and had classes from first grade to 5th grade in the Brick building and classes of the 6th , 7th , and 8th . In the wooden building.
It was torn down in 1941 and replaced by a smaller school as the population of Buckner
went from 2500 to 950 around that time. The new school opened around 1941 was a state of the art school with a
great gym and stage, basically built from concrete and brick it was closed around 1963 due to lack of students
and money and all children was transferred to Christopher Illinois school.
This is the only picture I have of the current grade school and it is in deplorable condition, it is to the point where it can not be saved and should be torn down.
Buckner was a well known place to find a cold beer because at one time we had 13 taverns in the city limits. One of the reasons for this many taverns in a town with only a 950 population was closing hours of 4:00AM but that was ignored and some of them stayed open as long as they had customers. On main street running East and West there was Sams Pool hall and tavern Run by Sam Yusonavich or nick name of Black Sam. On Market Street running North and South, on the East side you had Norman Reeses tavern, run by several people over time, but when I was growing up it was run by Norman. Some time around 1948 the second story caught fire and the top floor was destroyed and it became a one story building . Then Rado’s Tavern run by Rado Tatalovich this was Rodney Rolla’s Grandparents and since Rodney was my best friend we had full access to any where in the building. Taverns were not near as strict back then as they are now. Across the street on the West side there was Curly’s Tavern, and in Back of that there was the famous Rat Hole Run by Biff West.. On the highway 14 from the East End of town, you Had another Tavern run By Black Sam Yusonavich and going west the next one was Raymond Carosey place which was one of the more classy Taverns, then right next door to this was The play house, and
played down the street where the DX gas station was, it was a tavern run by many different people, its main attraction was it had a boca Ball court next to it.
Then next was The cozy Club. An interesting note about the Cozy Club Tavern was it was originally built as a movie house in 1930 and was one of the first talkies in the area.
Here is a picture of the Cozy Club Tavern which was later the Club Alamo.
Further west was the B and K tavern and then the Rainbow inn, the original Rainbow
inn tavern was a two story building with a porch on the second floor facing highway 14. My Brother tells me in
1925 that it was a house of prostitution and had girls for hire and in the summer they would set out on the porch
and try to wave the cars in. Then the last tavern was one of the newest built and I can not remember the name it
was called but it was run by several people.
There was 7 grocery stores when I was growing up and before that there was one that I know of that opened on main St., it was run by Andy Bugaieski and was opened in 1920 and closed in1933 and became the relief office. The seven stores were Arnold Boggia called the Red store and located up on Russian hill, then on Main street in the middle of Town, the next one was Toth Grocery and just North of Mickey Hargis house was Plushies and it was run by two sisters Mary and Margret further on down West by the Miners hall you had a woodway store and then the next one was Joe Boris Grocery. The largest store in town was the miners company store located right next to the RR tracks and it had a grocery store and hardware and also appliances. If you were a coal miner from Old Ben you could shop there and pay cash or charge it which was taken out of your next pay check and the balance given to you in cash. Across the Tracks north located on the highway was Wards Grocery and Gas station and Hardware store, run by Sid Ward and his wife.
In 1933 due to lack of demand for coal the mines stopped working until 1935 after that work was very spotty and the 7 grocery stores played a big part in keeping the miners in food as they would let them charge groceries until they got paid, some times the miners would not draw enough working only one day a week and maybe two days a month so the food bills kept getting higher and higher, and some of the stories lost money when the families would move to another state. When World war Two Started in 1941 the mines started working 7 days a week and every one prospered this prosperity lasted until well after the Korean war and In 1960 the mine was closed for good.
At the present time Buckner is nothing more than a bedroom community as all of the people who live here work at other locations. But its still my home town.
Some ads of the business located in Buckner Illinois.
This is the building that used to stand where the new Community (City Hall) Building stands now. It was at one time in 1920's a grocery store run by
Andy Bugaieski who came to the USA in 1902 from Dziekski Poland. He later sold the store in 1933 and started the Bugaieski oil company in Christopher.
Then in 1934 the building became the relief office for the Browning Township and was run by Palmer Rea. This man was a saint as he helped so many poor people during the hard times in Southern Illinois
More Buckner School photo HERE
Events and Happenings:
17 Sep 1906 - The Rail Road tracks were built through Buckner.
6 Jan 1908 - Stotlar Herrin Lumber Company opens in Buckner
Oct 1910 - Buckner Mine officially opens. Operated by United Coal Company as their Mine #2.
On the 25th work of sinking a shaft began. The final shaft was 447 ft. deep and measured 11 ft by 19 ft.
28 May 1911 - First coal was reached in Buckner mine shaft.
10 Jun 1912 - Petition signed by 30 legal voters to address Buckner as a Village.
1913 - First Baptist Church was founded and on 23 Jan 1936 it was destroyed by fire.
The church was rebuilt in 1936 and still stands today. In 1997, Rev. John Overturf
was the Pastor. The average attendance is 25-30 followers.
1916 - St. Mary Russian Orthadox Church was built.
1917 - Pleshe's Market opened; owned by John & Vernoica Pleshe; closed in the 1980's
12 Jul 1918 - St. Mary Russian Orthadox Church burned to the ground.
Before Christmas 1918 an new building was erected. The church still stands on "Russian Hill".
1931: Rev. L. KIRICHENKOFF pastor
4 Mar 1920 - Andy Bugaieski opened a Grocert Store on Main St.
8 Apr 1921 - Mrs. Lydia Overturf appointed Cheif of Police.
1924 - "Red's Store" opened; owned by George Evoldi, in 1943 it was took over by Arnold Bogi
and became known as "Bogi's Store". In 1972 Arnold's daughter took over until its closure in 1980.
31 Jul 1926 - Buckner Boys Brass Band started. It consisted of 30 members and was nicknamed "Russian Band".
The band disbursed in Feb 1930 due to the Stock Market crash and the Depression.
1932 - W.P.A. building was built in the Buckner Park by the men and women of the W.P.A.
Mark DuHammell was the main carpenter and the cement was poured by Steve Galayda.
Many bands played and dances were held within it.
19 Aug 1935 - Dolly Rolla appointed 4th Postmaster of Buckner.
She remained postmaster for 55 years until her death in 1990.
In 1935 stamps only cost 3 cents and they had 10-15 bags of parcel post leaving Buckner daily.
1940's - Ward Grocery Store opened; Ragan's is located there now.
1943 - Sister BRAY began preaching at the Buckner Full Gospel Mission Pentecostal Church.
Before it became a church, it was a tavern.
1952 - A new Post Office building was constructed which is still in use today.
4 Jul 1960 - Buckner Mine closes.
1969 - Buckner Post Office was broke in to.
Aug 1982 - A car crashed through the front window of the Post Office Building.
18 Mar 2005 - Harrison Cemetery, 33 monuments overturned and/or broken. Benton Evening News
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Nanette Riley © Illinois Genealogy Trails History Group