By Frances Stadelman - Taken from the "The Story of Macoupin County 1829-1979"
About the year 1830, the Wood brothers came from Kentucky to Illinois prospecting for future homes. They camped on the site of the future town of Woodburn. They had a campfire, so the few people who were here dubbed it “Wood Burn” which eventually became Woodburn.
James and Robert R. Tompkins erected many of the houses on Woodburn. They came from Virginia February 13, 1835. E. J. Miner built a store in 1835 and a mill was built by Dr. Edwards and John Adams in 1836. Before it was finished, they sold their interest to Moses Jones, who in turn sold it to Mudge, and it became a sawmill. T. J. Vandoren bought it and installed a large engine and two runs of burrs. In 1840, Daniel Luttrel built a mill for grinding corn, powered by oxen, horses, mules, or anything that could be hitched to it. Patrons came from miles around to get their cornmeal ground.
The railroad that came through Bunker Hill was originally surveyed to pass through Woodburn, but more patronage to St. Louis through Bunker Hill was anticipated, so Bunker Hill grew and Woodburn became the smaller town.
When the railroads were built, the stagecoach line was closed since travel by train was better. The stagecoach went from Alton to Springfield and passed through Woodburn. Just west of Woodburn is a crossroads where the stagecoach stopped to pick up passengers, but only when the lady of the station waved a towel or rag. Since then, the crossroads area has been called “Shake Rag.”
The first church to be organized was the Baptist Church in 1835. In 1839, the Congregational Church was organized. The building was used during the week for school purposes, and parents paid the teacher for each student attending. In 1960, a tornado damaged the church building beyond repair; in 1963, a newly built church was dedicated.
In 1850, the Methodists built a church and in 1858, the Christians organized and built a church. The brick schoolhouse was built in 1852, and the children then went to public school. There is a monument in the public square in memory of one soldier who lost his life in France in 1918 and two others who died while serving in the army.
Ten doctors will have served the people of Woodburn. Dr. Frost was a dentist. There have been several blacksmiths, a painter, wagon makers, a carriage maker, a number of carpenters, and at least two butchers. There was a brick kiln, a brickyard, and a bricklayer. William West had the first grocery store followed by several others. Robert Partridge had the last store, and it closed in 1975.
The Woodburn Nursery was started in 1845; it sold fruit and other trees. At one time,
maple trees lined the streets on the west and south sides of the square, and many teams of horses rested in their
shade on the way to Bunker Hill. Mr. Richard Welch
had several orchards and in order to use the apples, he constructed an apple dryer. Several people worked in it
including the men who operated the dryers, and the ladies who peeled, cored, and sliced the apples.
[Donated by Anne Stinnett]