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This is one of the oldest towns in Jersey County. It is located on section 14, the principal part being on the west half of that section. It was surveyed and platted by Geo. I. Foster, county surveyor, Oct. 6, 1866. and the plat was filed for record August 14, 1867, although the place is, really, many years older than that would seem to indicate.
Its early prossession of good eduation facilities was one of the principal causes of the building up to the town. Dr. Silas Hamilton, who died in November, 1834, left, by his will, $4000 for the purpose of education. Of this sum, $2000 was to be expended in the erection of a school bulding on a site which had previously been selected by the doctor himself. This building was to be large enough to be used for a place of worship. The remaining $2,000 was set apart as an endowment fund for carrying on a primary schoo. Material was gotten on to the site selected, which was within the present limits of Otterville, and the executors commenced the erection of the present school building thereon in the summer of 1835, finishing the same season. The first term of school opened in June, 1836, and was sustained in part by subscriptions, and partly by interest on the endowment fund. The opening of the school occasioned the settlement of a number of families in the neighborhood to enjoy its educational advantages, and this was the nucleus of the growth of the town.
A log house which stood on what is now block three, was occupied by a man named Chandler previous to the erection of the school building.
There has been made to the town of Otterville one addition since the laying out of the place. This was made by Henry E. Dougherty, and was surveyed and platted Aug. 14, 1867, by George I. Foster, county surveyor. The plat was recorded in the office of the clerk of the circuit court, Nov. 20, 1867.
The first store in Otterville was started by Joshua Thompson, in 1845. About a year afterward he disposed of it to Thorton Hughes. He conducted the business two years and then sold to B. B. Hamilton. In the fall of 1854, he sold out the stock to William Shephard, who afterward closed out the good.
The blacksmith was Thorton Hughes, who established his shop about the year 1846.
A wagon shop was instituted about the same time by John D. Waggoner, in connection with Hughes' blacksmith shop. This was also the first wagon shop in the place.
Present Business Interests
The Otterville Store Company commenced doing business in 1885. The business is managed by H. L. Giers. He handles a general stock of goods, comprising dry goods, groceries, hats and caps, boots and shoes, queensware, glassware, hardware, notions, cigars, tobacco, etc. The building is of frame construction, the main portion being 24x55 feet in ground area, with a warehouse attached, 16x20 feet. There is also an office room attached, which is 12x14 feet in size. The building is two stories in height, the upper floor being used as a hell by the Odd Fellows and Masons.
H. L. Giles is a son of Louis and Louisa (Rupp) Giers, natives of Germany, and was born in St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 28, 1851. He resided with his parents in St. Louis, where he attended school until he was 11 years of age. At that time he came to Otterville, which has been his residence the greater portion of the time since. He was for three years engaged in mercantile business in company with his uncle, Frederick Giers. The firm then became Giers & Barnes. April 4, 1876, H. C. Giers bought the business of that firm and continued it until March, 1880, when he sold out to L. T. Wagoner. In January, 1883, Mr. Giles rebuilt the Otterville mill, which he operated six months, then traded the same to C. C. McMurphy for Kansas lands, which he traded for a water-power flouring mill at East Dubuque. He removed thither and engaged in running the mill, 10 months, when it was burned. He then purchased a two-thirds interest in a mill at Alta, Iowa, where he lived 11 months, then sold out and returned to Otterville and engaged in merchandising for the Otterville Store Company. He was united by marriage, June 9, 1883, with Isabella Montgomery, of Otterville. They have one child, Henry Webster, aged 14 months. Mr. Giers held the office of postmaster one year (then resigned) and assistant postmaster for eight years. He was township for treasurer on year, and is a member of the A. F. and A. M.
The drug store of Dr. Williams was established by him Nov. 1, 1879. He keeps a full line of drugs of all kinds, handles patent medicines, druggists' sundries, cigars, fancy goods, paints, oils, toliet articles, etc. Prescriptions are compounded here with precision and accuracy, the doctor himself being a fine physician, and his assistant, Mr. Case, being a registered pharmacist. A sketch of Dr. Williams will be found in the Medical Chapter.
The wagon-maker and general repair shop of Lewis White was established in April 1882. The shop is well equipped for doing repairing of all kinds and general blacksmithing.
L. T. Waggoner, postmaster, is also dealer in general merchandise. His building is a one-story frame, 24x70 feet in size. The business was established by him in 1882. The postoffice is in the same building.
W. H. Lehmkuhl, blacksmith, commenced business in 1878. He does all kinds of general blacksmithing, repair and wagon work, and since May, 1885, has been manufacturing a patent fence, constructed of wire and slats, which is acquiring considerable popularity.
W. H. Lehmkuhl is of German estraction, he father, W. H. Lehmkuhl, being a native of Germany. His mother, Elizabeth (Grether) Lehmkuhl, was born in Missouri. The subject of this sketch was born in St. Louis, Mo., in 1848. When he was eight years of age his father died, after which he went with his mother to St. Charles, Mo., where they remained a short time, then went to Cattleville, Mo., thence, soon after, to Grafton, Jersey County. One year later they removed to Otterville, where he still resides. Here he received a fair education, and at the age of 16 years began learning the blacksmith trade, which he has followed the greater portion of the time since. In 1864, he enlisted in the 144th Ill., and served until the close of the war. In 1870, he was married to Elmira Montgomery, a native of Otterville. They have three children - William Francis, aged 14; John Leo, aged 8, and Preston Montgomery, aged 5 years. Mr. Lehmkuhl was elected justice of the peace, but resigned after serving one year. He has been a member of the town board two terms. He is the owner of real estate, including residence property and a shop in Otterville.
The first mill in Otterville was built in 1859, by H. E. Dougherty, William McDow, Ephraim Hughes, and John A. Campbell. It was not a very extensive establishment, and the business outgrew the factilities. A change was made in the proprietorship, H. E. Doughtery and William McDow assuming sole control. Some additions were made to the property, at the conclusion of which Mr. McDow went out of the firm. Mr. Doughtery then took J. M. Terry into partnership, and a new mill was erected. The old mill building was then used as a grain warehouse. The cost of the new plant was $28,000. Additions were subsequently made to the value of $4,000. The new mill commenced running in Aug. 1869. Dougherty afterwards assumed exclusive contril of the mill, which he ran until he died. It then lay idle about a year, and was finally sold to a firm composed of H. N. Belt, W. E. Carlin and W. H. H. West. The business was conducted under this proprietorship for a time, and was then sold to B. F. Waggoner, He ran it until it burned down, in 1879. The property was insured for about all that it was then worth. A temporary structure in which to continue operations was soon erected, by Humistion and Co., who afterwards sold it to a firm from Kansas, named Lee & Schofield, under whose management it agian furnished food for the flames. The boilers still remain on the site of the ruined mill, they now belonging to Mr. Humiston.
Otterville has a feed mill run by stearm. It was put up in 1882, by A. H. Humiston, and does all kinds of custom grinding. Mr. Humiston aslo keeps in stock feed and meal of all kinds, which he handles in large and small quantities.
Arthur H. Humiston, son of Warren annd Elizabeth (Starlin) Humiston, was born in Washington County, Ohio, in 1856. When he was six months old his parents removed to Jersey County, Ill., and settled in Otter Creek Township, where he has resided most of the time since. During his early life he worked this county, he lived on his father's farm, near Otterville, four years, then came to the village, where he has ever since resided. In 1849, he became a Christian, making a public profession of religion. In 1852, after fully preparing himself, he commenced preaching the gospel. In 1854, he was ordained a minister of the Baptisit Chruch, known as the Missionary Baptise, and has continued to preach since that time. In 1842, he was married to Margaret M. Biggers, a native of Kentucky. By this union there have been six children - Francis M., now living in Jersey ville; Melvina, wife of Uriah Oberlin, of this town.ship; Theodore, living in Jerseyville; Junius A., of East St. Louis; Mary Belle, wife of George Hocking, of Jacksonville, Ill.; Sarah M., wife of William D. Curtis, of Abilene, Kan.; Mrs. Dodson died Feb. 20, 1857. The same year, Mr. Dodson was again married to Mrs. Nancy Montgomery, widow of William D. Montgomery, of Otterville. By this marriage there are four children - James F., living in Abilene, Kan.; Aaron, Jr., at Mendota, Ill.; Irena, wife of Edgar Nutt, of Abilene, Kan.; and Kersey, living with his parents. The second Mrs. Dodson died in 1878. Four years later he was married to Amy Irene Greer, by whom he has one child, Jennie M. Mr. Dodson served in the army three years during the war of the Rebellion, enlisting in 1862, in the 14th Ill. Cav., in which he acted as chaplain during ".the last six months of his service. He saw much active service, and participated in many engagements. In the fall of 1865 he was elected justice of tlie peace of this township, in which capacity he has upon his father's farm and attended the di.strict school. In 1873, he attended the graded school at Jerseyville for a term of five months. He then returned to Otter Creek and engaged in running a derrick used in erecting stone buildings. He assisted in building the school houses at Otterville and Grafton. After a time he located on a farm near Otterville, where he remained till the spring of 1882, at which time he returned to the village, and built the mill of the Jersey Milling Company. After carrying on that business a few months he sold his interest in the business, and the following spring moved to Kansas, and engaged in the drug business at Abilene, having as a partner, Dr. Curtis. Nine months later he sold out and came back to Otterville. In Dec, 1883, he built and fitted up a steam feed mill, which he operates at the present time. He was married June 2, 1885, to Sarah Gulick, a native of Macoupin county, Ill. He is the owner of real estate, including four lots and mill property in Otterville. Mr. Humiston is a member of the Methodist church, and his wife, of the Presbyterian Church.
Rev. Aaron Dodson has been a resident of Jersey county since 1840, having removed here from Greene county with his parents, in that year. He was born in St. Louis county. Mo., Sept. 29, 1822, and is a son of Fletcher A. and Margaret (Toney) Dodson, the former a native of Kentucky, and the latter of Virginia. In 1824, they settled on a farm in Greene county, Ill., near where the town of Kane now stands. Aaron grew to manhood on the farm, and attended the district school, thus obtaining a fair education. After coming to served until the present time, except one year, and that year he served as assessor. He owns 40 acres of land, also town property. As a preacher Mr. Dodson is possessed of much zeal and ability, and has been successful in bringing many to a knowledge of salvation. His father was also a Baptist minister and school teacher over 40 years, 30 of which was spent in Missouri, and died in 1873.
John B. Carroll, son of Andrew and Jane (Patton) Carroll, was born in Bond county, Ill., in the year 1844, Andrew Carroll died in 1846. His widow is now living in Otterville. John B. was brought to this county when quite young, and here reared, receiving his education in the district schools. Feb. 4, 1854, he enlisted in the 144th Ill. Inf., Co. G, and served one year. He was united in marriage Dec. 7, 1875, with Anna M. Porter, a native of Jersey county. She was brought up by Rev. James Slaten, of Mississippi Township. Mr. and Mrs. Carroll are the parents of two children - Achsah and Beulah. Mr. Carroll has been constable four years, and still holds that office. He is a member of the G. A. R. He carries on, in the capacity of constable, quite an extensive collection business, also engages in loan and real estate business, having a large amount of land upon his list. Mrs. Carroll is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.
Allen M. Vanausdall, a carpenter and a resident of Otter Creek Township, is among the old settlers, having lived here most of his life. He was born in Monroe county, this state, Aug. 4, 1839, and is a son of John and Mary (Pegan) Vanausdall, the former a native of Pennsylvania, and the latter of Virginia. These people were pioneers and came down the Ohio river on a flat boat in 1812, settling near Vincennes, Ind. They were also early settlers in this state, locating near Waterloo, Monroe County, as early as 1824. Thus they were among the early settlers in two states, and contributed their full share toward "opening up" a new country, and setting in motion a series of events, which subsequently made this a desirable home for many people. They continued to live near Waterloo until 1846, when they removed to Rosedale Township, Jersey County, and remained four years, then came to this township where they both died. His father was born March 29, 1785, and died Nov. 6, 1865, in the 80th year of his age. His mother died April 7, 1872, at the age of 76. The subject of this sketch here spent his youth engaging in the multifarious duties incident to farm life, and attending school until 19 years old. Subsequently he owned a farm of 80 acres and engaged in farming until 25 years of age, then came to Otterville and worked at the carpenter's trade with Michael Murray, and has since been engaged in that business. He was married May 6, 1860, to Agnes Ann Hillman, a native of Iowa. They have five children living - Rose, at home; Mattie, Lillie, Millie and Ebert Sylvester. He is a member of the I. 0. O. F. Charles F. Bull has been a resident of Jersey County since 1862, having come here in May of that year and settled near Grafton, on the Illinois river bottom. He remained there until 1868, when he moved to Otterville. He was born in Worcester, Mass., in 1845. He is a son of Horace C. and Sarah R. (Baker) Bull, the former born at Westfield, Vt., and the latter at Brattleboro, in the same state. Charles lived with his parents in the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts until he was seven years old. They then moved to Cleveland, Ohio, and two years later to Belleville, Ill., where they remained a few months, then moved to St. Louis. They resided in that city two years, removing in 1857 to St. Charles county. Mo. In the fall of 1851 they moved to Calhoun county, Ill., and the following spring to Jersey county, as before stated. In 1864 Charles enlisted in the 144th Ill. Inf., and served one year. His father was also in the army, serving three years as a member of Co. K, of the 97th Ill. Inf. Charles was married April 10, 1883, in Fairfield, Ohio, to Mary C. Martin. They are tiie parents of one child, Sarah Roxana. In 1874 Mr. Bull went to Clay county. Neb., and took a homestead of 160 acres, and remained there, teaching most of the time till 1879. He then went to Lebanon, Ohio, and attended the National Normal University until the fall of 1882. The following winter he spent in the southern states, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, returning to Ohio in the spring. After marriage he went south to Tennessee and remained until August, 1883, when he returned to Jersey County. During the winter of 1883-4 he taught school at Elsah, and the next winter at Blackjack school house, south of Jerseyville. In April, 1885, he came to Otterville, where he at present resides. He owns a house and two lots in Otterville. He is a teacher by profession, for which he is well fitted both by nature and education and in which he is popular and successful. He is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, with which he united in 1869. His wife holds connection with the Protestant Methodist church. He has always been an earnest advocate of the cause of temperance and is a member of the I. O. G. T. He belongs also to the A. F. & A. M., I. O. 0. F., and the G. A. R. He has traveled considerably in Texas, the Indian Territory, and several states. He has learned two good trades, hence will always be able to make a good living.
Silas W. Rogers of Otterville, is a son of William and Elizabeth (Hamilton) Rogers, and was born near this town in 1849. He was brought up on a farm and educated in the public schools of Otterville. When 16 years of age he entered the store of John A. Campbell, with whom he continued six years. He then went into business for himself, which he carried on until May 25, 1885. He was married in the year 1871, to Hattie McKinstry, a native of Jersey County. They are the parents of three children - Eddie, Flora and John. Mr. Rogers was postmaster of Otterville six years and served two terms upon the board of supervisors, immediately after township organization. He is at present township treasurer and treasurer of the Hamilton fund. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, also of the I. O. O. F. lodge at Otterville, of which he was the first member initiated. Mrs. Rogers is a member of the Baptist church. While in business here, Mr. Rogers won the respect and esteem of a large number of friends and patrons.
Isaac Newton Kennedy was born in Otter Creek township, Jersey county, in the year 1859. His parents, Isaac and Elizabeth (Davis) Kennedy are still living in the township. Both are natives of Indiana. Isaac attended school until 17 years of age, thus obtaining a fair education. He then followed farming three years. At the expiration of that period, he went to Macoupin county and engaged in clerking in a store at Chesterfield. He continued thus employed till Jan. 1883, at which time he returned to Otterville entering the store of S. W. Rogers, for whom he clerked until May, 1885, when Mr. Rogers sold out his business. Mr. Kennedy was married Sept. 2, 1884, to Mary C. Hall, of Chesterfield, Macoupin county., Ill. He is at present serving as township collector. He is a member of the I. 0. 0. F., in which he now holds the office of N. G., being reelected to the same.
Linus Humiston, of Otter Creek township, is a son of Jason and Margaret (McNeal) Humiston, the former a native of Wallingford, Conn., and the latter, of Morgantown, W. Va. Linus was born in Washington county, Ohio, in 1825. He remained in that county until 21 years of age, engaged in farming and carpentering. He obtained a good education in the public schools, and taught school one term of four months, in Ohio. In Sept., 1847, he came to Jersey county and settled in Otterville, where he has ever since resided. He has followed teaching school and carpentering. He was employed about 10 years as teacher of the Otterville school. In Feb., 1864, he enlisted in the 124th Ill. Inf., and served till July 17, 1865, when he was transferred to the 33d Ill. Reg., and was mustered out Dec. 6, 1865. He participated in the following battles: Benton, Yazoo City, Clinton, Jackson Cross Roads, Miss., and Spanish Fort, Ala. Mr. Humiston was married in 1878, to Ellen Spangle, a native of this county, and daughter of Andrew Spangle, of this township. Mr. and Mrs. Humiston have two children - Andrew Jason and Luther Burton. Jason Humiston, father of the subject of this sketch, died in Ohio, Nov. 20, 1854, and his wife, Margaret, March 31, 1849, in the same state.
Horace K. Barber is a native of the "Green Mountain State," born in Windham county in 1829, being a son of Calvin and Polly B. (Hall) Barber. In 1852 he came to Jersey county and settled in Jerseyville, where he resided till 1870. In that year he moved to Otterville, which has since been his home. He has followed the occupations of carpentering, coopering and brickmaking. In 1849 he was united in marriage with Martha E. Reed, also a native of Vermont. They are the parents of seven children - Francis Elliott, who died May 11, 1858, aged eight years; George Horace, born Aug. 6, 1851, now living in Edgar, Neb.; Arthur, who died March 18, 1854, aged eleven months; John A., born Oct. 24, 1855, now living in Carthage, Mo.; F'rederick Eugene, who died in 1876, aged 18 years; Lula Winnie, who died in 1872, aged eight years, and Desdemona, who also died in 1872, at the age of six years. Mr. Barber enlisted in 1861, in the 14th Ill. Regt., and served as a musician in Co. F, one year. He was mustered out at Corinth, Miss., in June, 1862. In Feb. 1865, he again enlisted in the 154th Ill. Inf., and served seven months as commissary-sergeant. Mr. Barber is a thorough musician and a band teacher.
Thomas A. Case, of Otterville, is a son of John B. and Ann (Ross) Case, and was born in the town where he now resides, Oct. 3, 1856. He attended the graded schools of Otterville and later, a private school, thus obtaining a good education, and at the age of 20 years, began teaching in a district school, which he continued five terms. Since 1880 he has clerked in the drug store of Dr. John Williams, during the summer months, and followed teaching during the winter. In 1882 he was elected collector of Otter Creek township, and filled that office one term. He is a member of the I. 0. 0. F., in which he is P. G.
Otterville Lodge, No. 456, I. 0. 0. F., was organized on the 10th day of Oct., 1871, by T. B. Needles, G. M., and N. C. Nason, G. S., with the following charter members: Albert Livingston, Jesse Cockrell, L. H. Palmer, James C. Buckles, E. N. Yale, John Cooley, Richard Chappell, Joseph Chambers and Joseph Marshaw. The first officers were: Albert Livingston, N. G.; Jesse Cockrell, V. G.; John Cooley, R. S.; Richard Chappell, Treas. Since then the presiding officers have been as follows : Jesse Cockrell, N. T. Rogers, James C. Buckles, E. J. Hughes, J. C. Noble, J. E. Hurd, John S. Williams, H. K. Barber, S. W. Rogers, W. H. Lehmkuhl, J. S. Turner, William H. Cook, W. C. Rogers, A. J. Milford, W. H. Lehmkuhl, J. S. Williams, W. A. Smith, J. A. Flautt, Vincent Martin, S. Hamilton, Thomas A. Case, Geo. W. White, J. N. Kennedy. The present officers are the following : J. N. Kennedy, N. G.; W. H. Lehmkuhl ,V. G .; Thomas A. Case, S.; W. C. Rogers, treasurer. The membership of the lodge is 40 at this writing. A commendable degree of interest is manifested by the members, and the lodge may be said to be in good condition, financially and otherwise. The lodge meets every Saturday evening.
Otterville Lodge No. 563, A. F. & A. M., was organized in 1868, with the following charter members: William J. Hull, 0. B. Hamilton, John Lincogle, Rev. Daniel Bell, William Bell, Lewis White and F. A. Claridge. The hall in which the lodge met was burned in 1881, with all the records, so that little of the data of its earlier history is obtainable. The lodge was re-organized Dec. 3, 1881, with the following officers: J. C. Noble, W. M.; H. C. Terry, S. W.; L. H. Slaten, J. W.; N. T. Rodgers, S. D.; J. K. Cadwallader, J. D.; J. F. Curtis, secretary; A. Swantzmiller, tyler. The officers for 1885 are: J. K. Cadwallader, W. M.; J. S. Williams, S. W.; J. A. Flautt, J. W.; J. C. Noble, Treas.; S. W. Rodgers, Sep. The present membership is now 28. The financial condition of the lodge is most excellent. Meetings are held once a month.
Barber's cornet band was organized on the 4th day of Dec, 1880, by H. K. Barber, with the following members: R. S. Bell, J. A. Barber, Charles W. Noble, George W. Noble, L. T. Waggoner, and H. K. Barber. Since then there have been some changes in membership though the number remains the same. The band at present contains the following new members: T. Herman Kirchner, Caleb C. Calhoun, W. C. Rogers. This band has held regular meetings for over four years, and under the efficient leadership of H. K. Barber, who is also instructor, they have made good progress and are now able to furnish good music when called upon.
The present school house of Otterville was build in 1873 and 1874. The building in size is 28x66 feet in the main portion, with an annex 18x20. It is constructed of stonem is two stories high, and cost $8,000. The first term of school in this building was taught by Mrs. Hannah H. Devol and Frances Dibble. The school year consists of eight months. There are 106 pupils enrolled, and the cost of maintaining this institution of learning of $1,000 per year. The present teachers are Will Hanly and Elizabeth Godfrey.
The Otterville Presbyterian church was organized March 19, 1885, with ten members.
The Otter Creek Baptist Church was organized in June 1855, by Revs. B. B. Hamilton, D. P. French, R. C. Keele, Aaron Dodson, and Elder John Brown.
Shiloh M. E. Church was built in 1859.
Source[History of Greene and Jersey Counties, Illinois, 1885 - Compiled by The Continental Historical Company, Springfield, Illinois, December 1885 - Pages 257 - 274]