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Illinois Genealogy Trails

 Jefferson County Illinois
Scheller, Illinois


by J. L. Denton
pub in "The Prairie Historian"
September 1973 Volume 2 Number 3
Submitted By: Abby Newell

Supplemental to an article in the last issue of "The Prairie Historian" submitted by Walter Nowland.

The fire that destroyed the depot, elevator, and the first store on the lot just west of where Mrs. Lena Pyszka now lives was in 1913. I was on the scene helping keep the flames from catching adjacent buildings. It was on a windy windy night and the fire started in a small building that stood where Mrs. Skortz's garage now stands. Wind was from the northwest and the flames spread to the elevator then to the depot. Fire brands carried over to the store mentioned above and the building being a story and a half no one could get to the roof to fight the blaze, so it burned down and all efforts were given to the house where Mrs. Pyszka now lives, but was then occupied by L. A. (Fate) Heatherington and family and a barn that stood on the alley back of it. (Sebern Weaver started his first enterprise in this barn making a carpet stretcher and another item that attached to a dining table in a bow fashion to keep the table cloth off what food was left on the table after a meal.) The building where Mr. Romie Kabat now lives and a house to the west of it was threatened. There was a merchant by the name of Suttle who occupied this store mentioned above, before the fire. The man from Tamaroa who ran the store where Mrs. Skortz owns was Jimmie Norton. This was before Davis and Hester. Stock Buyers and Shippers of the area were Cliff Quinn, Harvey Quinn, Lee Quinn, Sid Mannen, Ira Mannen, and Charlie Elliston. Just west of the depot there was a timber yard from which many car loads of timber was shipped. Arlie Lemons was the foremost timber merchant of that time, supplying the mines of the area with props, motor ties, etc. There were four blacksmiths shops in Scheller, at different times, of course. The oldest was that of Peter Reidelbarger whose shop was just west of the house next to the present tavern. Strauder Nowland had a shop on his property, second house north of Skortz's garage. William Cunningham operated a shop in a building that stood just north of the old Hargis Store that is still standing. Jim Cunningham had a shop in the building that stood just north of the house now belonging to one of the Wright family I believe. William Laur also had a shop on the premises now owned by his daughter Nina Ruth Laur. Before the advent of the automobile Scheller was a thriving place because of its shipping facilities, schools, churches, etc. Much farm produce from north, west and south was brought to Scheller and business was good until the auto and truck changed all that for all future time. Poultry was shipped out occasionally, by the car load. Especially around the holidays. School teachers not previously mentioned were Bell Patton, Sam Smith, Marion Strickland, and Bertha Hartley. She boarded with us and had a guitar. She would play and sing of evenings. She was a charming lady and she spent her girlhood in the house, still standing, just north of the Nelson McCormack home. Civil War Veterans living about Scheller were B. M. Laur, Taylor Wright, Joe Allen, Frank Smith, William Cunningham, John H. Johnston, Jimmy Lemmon, Bill Isom, Frank Isom, Isaac Hall, Jasper Wells, whom I recall. Back to Scheller industries, Sebern Weaver with his son Albert operated an ironing board factory just east of the stock pen. They shipped several car loads to franchise holders in nearby territory. They later moved to Mt. Vernon where they operated a planing mill. Scheller remains only a skeleton of its former self.

Source: "The Prairie Historian"
September 1973 Volume 2 Number 3
Transcribed By: Abby Newell


The Scheller Post Office was established on December 31, 1892, but due to a spelling error on the application it was given the official name Sheller by the Post Office Department. The name was changed to Scheller on March 12, 1926.

Postmasters were...
Andrew J. Black -- Dec. 31. 1892
William M. Dudley -- Feb. 26, 1895
Andrew J. Black -- Oct. 1, 1897
John M. Shurtz -- Jan. 22, 1899
Isaac L. Quinn -- Jul. 27, 1914
Sophia Skortz -- Feb. 11, 1919
Raymond L. Nadolski -- Sep. 29, 1959
Gertrude Dressler -- Apr. 1, 1961
Raymond L. Nadolski -- Dec. 17, 1961

Rural service started in 1904.
The rural carriers were:
Route # 1 Jan. 1, 1904 -- William Laur -- 27 miles.
Route # 2 Jan. 1, 1904 -- John Laur -- 25 miles.
Route # 3 Aug. 1, 1904 -- Harold E. Martin -- 24 miles.

We have no records of succeeding rural carriers.


Some things I remember about Scheller seventy years ago. The little village is located about a mile East of the large hill known as Bald Hill from which the township took its name. It is located on a rail road which at that time was known as the Wabash Chester and Western, (WC&W) which was from Mt. Vernon to Chester. A very nice little depot was on the North side of the depot. There were two trains which carried a passenger coach and a baggage coach. They brought the mail. Each train made a round trip daily. One going East and one going West in the A.M. and returning in the P.M. We could get on a train at Scheller in the morning and go to Mt. Vernon and spend the day, as well as our money and return in the late afternoon. The same was true going West or to Chester.
Just North of the depot was an elevator where the farmers could sell grain and sometimes have grain ground. West of the depot and located on the switching track was a stock yard. There were some cattle dealers in the neighborhood who would buy up stock and load them into a car going to St. Louis. I have also seen cars loaded with turkeys, geese, chickens and ducks there at this pen.
South of the depot was a two story building where Mr. Frank Hester operated a general store and he and his wife and two children, Olen and Hazel, lived in the upstairs apartment. Later the store was sold to a man from st. Louis who I have heard the oldsters say was a Jew. He operated the store for a time and advertised a reduced price sale, then a short time after the sale the store burned. Just West of this store was another small store building owned and operated by Mr. Jack Black who was also Postmaster. It also burned along with the other building. North of the RR was another store building where Mr. Frank Hester with Mr. Henry Davis opened a store known as Davis and Hester. It was operated by Mr. Hester as Mr. Davis owned and operated a store in Waltonville. Later this was sold to a man from Tamaroa, whose name I do not remember. This man then sold the store to two men; Mr. Hickle and Mr. Bennett. In the meantime Mr. Jack Black had built back a small building and continued to operate a store and Post Office until he retired. The Post Office was then moved to the building north of the RR and Mr. John M. Shurtz was appointed postmaster where he operated for a number of years. In the building vacated by Mr. Black, Mr. Isaac L. Quinn operated a store for some time. IN the meantime the store on the North side had been vacated and Uncle John Shurtz retired from the post office, Mr. Quinn was our postmaster. Mr. Quinn operated the store and post office for a number of years before moving to Waltonville with his wife and family. Mrs. Quinn formerly was Lena Newbury, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Logan and Anna (Shurtz) Newbury. This property was then purchased by Mr. & Mrs. Max Skortz and Mrs. Skortz was appointed to the post office and successfully operated it along with the store for many years. Now Mr. Raymond Nadolski is the postmaster and Mrs. Skortz still operates the general store where articles can be found that are scarce in many places. Going back to the location of the first store building mentioned that burned. A Mr. Noah F. Hargas from around the Ewing area bought the property and put up a new store and carried a very large stock of merchandise. He and his sons, along with wife and daughter successfully operated the store for many years. The store was then sold to Mr. (Lit) Hetherington, a resident of the village. The store was operated by Mr. & Mrs. Harry Adams for a short time when again the store burned. The village had many fire. Sometime back during these years the depot and elevator burned also. They were never replaced. At the North of the village was the public school. The building still stands. Next to the school was a church and a town house. The church is not there now. Some of the school teachers that I remember are Mr. Ed. Hicks, Miss. Laura Rosenbarger, Miss. Bertha Hartley, (Miss Hartley later became the wife of Dr. J. W. Wells.) Dr. Wells opened his first office in a small building in the village. Later moved to Waltonville. Other teachers were, Mrs. Nina Cherry, Mr. Galveston Reynolds. Mr. T. Jace, Mr. Carl Dalby, and MIss. Grace Wright (later Grace Smith.) At the South edge of the village was a blacksmith shop and across from it was the Catholic Church and School. Now it has been replaced with a beautiful new building.
Some of the old timers who lived in the village were, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Quinn Sr., Mr. and Mrs. Jay Allen, Mr. & Mrs. William Laur, Mr. & Mrs. William Dudley, Mr. & Mrs. James Hester, Mr. & Mrs. Abe Denton, Mr. & Mrs. Sam Quinn, Jr., Mr. & Mrs. Joe JOhnson, Mr. & Mrs. R. T. Wright, Mr. & Mrs. S. C. Nowland, Mr. & Mrs. Frank Hester, Mr. & Mrs. N. F. Hargis, Mr. & Mrs. Cunningham, John, Julia, Bell and Mary Scheller (brother and sisters), Mr. & Mrs. Seburn Weaber and in the surrounding neighborhood were many Johnson and Quinn families. Submitted by Walter Nowland
Source: "The Prairie Historian"
June 1973 Volume 3 Number 2
Transcribed By: Abby Newell

Submitted by Pearl Rainey Dodds (daughter of Lizzie Scheller Rainey)

George and Gertrude (Kuhn) Scheller came to Illinois from Fayette County, Indiana. They both came to this country from Germany. Gertrude Kuhn (Scheller) was about sixteen years old and came with her family across the Atlantic in a sail boat. They landed in New York. She was married to George Scheller in 1856, and they came to Illinois in 1857 or 1858, because her family had settled in DuBois, Ill. and the land here was cheap. They made Scheller their home. They cleared and cultivated the land and as they prospered, acquired more land.
Then there was talk of a railroad, and in 1893 a deed was given to The Wabash Chester and Western Railroad. The track to be built within 2 years of that date. The railroad was built and business developed. Some of which was the buying and shipping of stock.
In October of 1892 the land was surveyed and divided into town lots. Streets were named as follows: North Railroad St., South Railroad St., Main Street, Evans St., Water St., Scheller St. The town was officially known as Scheller. Soon after this a lake about 3 miles west of Scheller came into prominence as a resort. It was known as Scheller Lake and people came by railroad from Mt. Vernon to Chester to spend the day at the lake fishing and picnicking.
The children of George and Gertrude Scheller, in order of birth were: Mary, John, Bell, Julia, and Elizabeth (Lizzie). Only one of the children married. Lizzie was married to John L. Rainey of Marion, IL. He resided in Scheller a few years as telegrapher and agent at the W. C. & W. Railroad depot. They later settled in Mt. Vernon, IL.
Source: "The Prairie Historian"
June 1973 Volume 3 Number 2
Transcribed By: Abby Newell

The following is a letter from Jay L. Denton and Johnnie Hartley.

Pinckneyville, IL, February 22, 1972
Mrs. Nelson McCormack
Scheller, Illinois

Dear Cousin,
Your note received and contents noted with interest, of course I was surprised to receive the same. Hope all is well with you and yours. I pass with sight of your home frequently and wonder about you folks. I visited there several times when you were a small child, thats been many years ago.
As to your request for information regarding churches and cemeterys in Bald Hill township; my knowledge of that subject is limited however I will give you what I have - Dryden Church and cemetery was built in 1892 the four acres of which it comprises was given by my Grandfather Robert D W Allen. The first burial there was Ann Isom wife of Henry Isom and the next was Mat Cline as their stones will show if my memroy serves me correctly. The Ward cemetery was used prior to this. The Ward cemetery was given and named by a Mr. Ward who at that times owned about 250 acres of land there which lies adjacent to the land your father owned. Dryden church and Bald Hill church were served by a circuit rider from Ashley having services on alternate Sundays with neither ever having had a regular minister. After Waltonville had a church congregation these 2 churches were supplied from Waltonville. I have no exact knowledge as to when Bald Hill church came into being but I believe it was about the time Dryden came.
There was at one time a Post Office known as Dryden, it was in Grandfathers home located just north of the old Black Jack school, there are two or three maple trees still standing beside the road on the right, the land now belongs to a Mr. Witges who lives on the old Frank Smith Place. Mail was brought from Tamaroa three times per week to Fitzferrell, later known as Winfield and to Dryden. I well remember the case of pigeon holes for the letters that stood in the front room of Grandfathers old house, as we lived in it for a while 70 years ago.
People residing in the area now known as Dryden attended religious services at Old Baptist, Bear Point, Green Briar and Paradise several hours driving in a wagon or surry. There was in the first decade of the 19th century a church organization known as Dunkards in the Meso neighborhood and the minister was a Rev. Daniel Ulery. It desolved with the passing of Rev. Ulery.
Families prominent in the Dryden neighborhood were: Hartleys, Allens, Smiths, Isoms, Gilberts, Clampets, Benthels, Fitgerells and Stricklands.
There is a church in the southwest part of the township known as White Oak. Its date of its erection I do not know, but it was before the turn of the century, I am sure. Families living in the vicinity at the turn of the century were: Wells, Bob Clampet, Coffel, Dodge, VanHooreback, Dave Loucks, Hicks, Frank Ames that I can name readily.
There was a church located in Scheller which was Baptist and was erected between 1892 and 1900. It flourished for a while and then began a decline as people who supported it moved away or died. It was not very active after about 1912 and is now torn down. Families interested in this church were Johnson, Wright, Keller, Gilliland, Hetherington, Wever, Dudly.
There is St. Barbara Catholic Church at Scheller which I believe was organized between 1890 and 1900. History of this church and cemetery can best be obtained from the older parishoners now living in that area.
Jay L. Denton
Johnnie Hartley

P.S. On the old John Hartley place there was a few years ago a log structure used as a corn crib, and if still standing some one interested in things of old should take a picture of it as log structure of a hundred years ago are scarce. John Hartley tells me his father built that homestead in 1870 so it is over 100 years old.

Source: "The Prairie Historian"
June 1973 Volume 3 Number 2
Transcribed By: Abby Newell

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