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HOW TOWNS AND CITIES IN VERMILION COUNTY GOT THEIR NAMES

By L. A. TUGGLE, Co. Supt. of Schools— 1940

[Source: "Stories of Historical Days In Vermilion County, Illinois," By Grammar Grade Pupils of Villages and Rural Schools, 1934-1935; Compiled for the School Libraries By L. A. TOGGLE, County Superintendent of Schools. Transcribed by K. Torp]

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ALLERTON received its name from a large land owner, Samuel W. Allerton. The town was planned by Mr. Allerton. Every deed contained this clause: "It is understood that no gambling house, pool room, or saloon should be permitted for the sale of wine, beer or any intoxicating liquor, unless with the consent of the owner."

ALVIN was first called Gilbert for Hon. Alvan Gilbert, an early settler and prominent in Township affairs. Later it was changed to Mr. Gilbert's given name Alvan. The spelling was changed when the name of the town was recorded. In 1903 momentary oil boom was started at Alvin.

ARMSTRONG was named for Thomas and Henry Armstrong. This town was started in 1877.

BELGIUM is east of Kellyville and was named Belgium because most of the early residents came from Belgium.

BISMARK was built in 1872 and evidently must have been given its name by the C. & E. I. Railroad.

CATLIN was first called "Butler's Point" in 1820 for James Butler who was the first settler. It was so called until the railroad officials called the name of their station Catlin after one of their men in 1856 at which time Guy Merrill and Josiah Hunt laid out the village of Catlin.

CHENEYVILLE was laid out by Jake McFerren in 1878. It was named after J. H. Cheney, Vice-President of the Lake Erie and Western Railroad. It is said that the land was donated by Abe Swisher, J. L. Starr and John Dunkalbarger.

DANVILLE was first settled by Dan Beckwith in 1824. At that time the site was occupied by a village of Piankeshaw Indians whose trading post was situated within the limits of the present Ellsworth Park. The Legislature passed an act on December 26, 1826, to appoint a new set of three Commissioners, Wm. Morgan, Zachariah Peter and John Kirkpatrick of Sangamon county, to select a "County Seat" for Vermilion county. These three men selected the lands donated by Guy W. Smith and Dan W. Beckwith. This land was near the mouth of the North Fork of the Vermilion River.

The Board of County Commissioners, Asa Elliott, Achilles Morgan (Mrs. L. A. Tuggle's great-great-grandfather) and James McClewer, accepted the report of the Sangamon County Commissioners. Dan W. Beckwith surveyed the land into 100 lots. The above Board of County Commissioners decided to honor Dan W. Beckwith as the earliest settler on the site and named the County Seat "DANVILLE."

Danville has an impressive group of civic buildings: Elk's Club, Carnegie Library, Federal Court and Post Office, Young Men's Christian Association, Wolford Hotel, Young Women's Christian Association and a large State Armory in one compact center. Other noted places are "Uncle Joe" Cannon's Home, Court House, Masonic Temple, Chamber of Commerce, City-Hall, Salvation Army Barracks, Danville Township Hall, and a Veterans Facility consisting of 27 buildings built in 1897 (and recently remodeled) for housing 1800 ex-service men who need domiciliary care.

EAST LYNN was laid out in 1872 and was named after the charming novel of Mrs. Anna S. Stephens.

ELLIS. Ellis was established in 1902. Ellis was named after Albert Ellis of Penfield, Illinois. The Post Office was established at Ellis in 1908. The Post Office was discontinued in 1935, and this promising village will soon be classed as one of the "extinct" towns.

FAIRMOUNT was first spoken of as the "Queen of the Prairies" of Vermilion county, being known as a noted grain market in an early day, shipping in larger quantities of corn, wheat, and oats than other towns in Vermilion county. Fair-mount was first called Salina. It was changed to Fairmount in 1863, by the suggestion of an early settler, Francis Dougherty. It was here that one of the first churches in the county was organ-ized, the Goshen Baptist, in 1832.

FITHIAN was named after Dr. William Fithian who owned vast acres of land in this part of the county.

GEORGETOWN village was named after the township of that name. It was established in the year 1827, two months after Danville was laid out. The naming seems to be in doubt. Some say Mr. Haworth named it for his son George who was a cripple. Others say that Danville having been named for Dan W. Beckwith, that Mr. Haworth believed it was a good stroke of policy to try to divide the sympathies of the Beckwith family for the two towns by naming his place in honor of George Beckwith. The probability is that both statements are true. This son, George, died of Cholera in 1854.
In making the survey of lots in Georgetown, it is told that for want of more convenient implements the North Star was used for a compass and a grape vine for a chain.

GRAPE CREEK began its existence with the opening up of the coal mine in 1866. It was named after a small creek named "Grape Creek" which flows through the village.

HENNING. When the H. R. & E. railroad, now the Illinois Central, was built in 1878, a gentleman from Pontiac, Illinois bought ten acres of land from the E. S. Pope estate for the town-site and named it Henning, in honor of his wife's maiden name, which was Henning. The town was incorporated in 1905 and the first Mayor was Charles Mason. J. W. White was the first Clerk and J. M. Dusenberry was the first Treasurer.

HOOPESTON was started in 1871 and was named for Thomas Hoopes, who owned a farm, which the railroad forced its way through, and hence a city was built.

INDIANOLA is one of the oldest towns in the county. It was first known as old Chillicothe, which was recorded Sept. 6, 1836. When Chillicothe demanded a post office it was found there was a town on the Illinois River by the same name, so it was changed to Dallas in 1844. It was soon discovered that another post office in Illinois was named Dallas City. The postmaster asked the post office department to change the name to Indianola which was done. For a long time the people of the village would not accept the name "Indianola" which caused much confusion in sending of mail, but finally the name became a fixture.

JAMAICA was first platted as "Kingsley" because a village had grown "up around" the church by that name which had been erected in 1873. The people petitioned the government to name the village and post office "Kingsley," but it was refused because there was another post office by that name in Illinois. It was finally called "Jamaica."

JAMESBURG— In 1894, the C. & E. I. railroad was built from Rossville to Sidell. A station and depot was established a few miles west of Henning. Several of the people living at Higginsville left that community and moved to this new station. A name had to be chosen, therefore the station was named "Jamesburg" in honor of James Goodwin.

MUNCIE was platted and recorded in 1875, and evidently named by the surveyors, Alexander Bowman and Edward Corbley.

OAKWOOD was established in 1870 and naturally named after Henry Oakwood because the township had previously been named after him.

OLIVET was named after Olivet University which was located in that village. The beginning of this village was in 1908, three miles south of Georgetown.

POTOMAC (Marysville) was first settled as a farm by John Smith (plain) in 1845. Isaac Meneley and others soon came to help Smith make a town. Both Smith and Meneley had wives named Mary, so they hit upon the plan of calling the town Marysville, after the two best Marys then living in town. The post office of Marysville was suspended for awhile, and when it was reinstated, the postoffice department changed the name to Potomac because of the near proximity to Myersville which seemed to confuse the mail carriers with the name Marysville. Marysville was incorporated into a village in 1876 but soon lost its identity as a name and is known as Potomac. The artesian wells have made Potomac famous in the county.

RANKIN was laid out in June, 1872 and named after Hon. David Rankin, the proprietor of a portion of the town and of a large amount of land in their neighborhood.

RIDGEFARM was platted for record in 1853 and was named for the name given to the farm of Abraham Smith. In 1849, when he commenced to bring his farm under cultivation he named it Ridgefarm.

ROSSVILLE was first known as "Liggett's Grove" in 1829. Later on it was called "Bicknell's Point" and then it became known far and wide as "Henpeck." Just why it was called "Henpeck" no one seems to know. The original town of Rossville was laid out about 1857 and was incorporated in July, 1872. Alvan Gilbert was the "father" of Rossville.

SI DELL was named in honor of John Sidell at the suggestion of John C. Short. John Sidell owned 3000 acres along both sides of the Little Vermilion River. It was incorporated in 1886.

TILTON. Tilton was originally laid out in 1854 and was called "Bryant." It was named "Bryant" after the Assistant Surveyor Bryant, working under Mr. Catlin, who surveyed the Northern Cross Railroad. Mr. L. Tilton of New York was Manager of the Northern Cross Railroad from 1861 until the name was changed to that of the Wabash Railroad about 1875. The name of the town "Bryant" was then changed to that of Tilton in honor of L. Tilton.

VERMILION GROVE history dates back to 1820. It is here where stands the "successor" of the first church built in Vermilion county. Also the first school established. The first plat was made by Elvin Haworth in 1876, and he called it "Vermilion" which name continued until the railroad was built through the village. When the post office was established in 1873, it was found necessary to change the name to "Vermilion Grove" because of another post office named "Vermilion" in Illinois.
Peanuts were kept in stores instead of tobacco, and hence men who couldn't purchase "tobacco" in Vermilion Grove nick-named the village "Peanut." This nickname is still known to the older generation.

WESTVILLE was laid out by William P. West and E. A. West in May, 1873. "Brook's Point" near Westville was one of the first settlements in Vermilion county and the first white boy, James O'Neal, was born there in 1822.


EXTINCT VILLAGES OF VERMILION COUNTY, ILLINOIS, IN 1940
By L. A. TUGGLE, Co. Supt. of Schools

[Source: "Stories of Historical Days In Vermilion County, Illinois," By Grammar Grade Pupils of Villages and Rural Schools, 1934-1935; Compiled for the School Libraries By L. A. TOGGLE, County Superintendent of Schools. Transcribed by K. Torp]



ARCHIE. Once upon a time Archie, located one mile south of Sidell, was an interesting little village. Today only nine or ten small residences remain, and the old school house is used as a barn. The railroad was abandoned about 1936.

BLUE GRASS CITY. A post office was established at Blue Grass in 1843. A town was platted in 1859. A large general store and Masonic hall were built. A flax warehouse was operated and did a thriving business for several years. "Killed by railroads" is the epitaph that might be written over Blue Grass because not a single landmark remains today except the Blue Grass school. It was northwest of Potomac about five miles.

BRONSON two miles west of Oakwood was one time "looked upon" as a promising village. A lot of money was invested in buildings. Modern roads put it out of business and business is silent as the grave at that place.

BROOKVILLE was a thriving little incorporated village just west of Grape Creek during the heighth of the mining industry in that coal field. All that remains today to locate the place are a few houses and the dilapidated Town Hall.

BUSEY was a little village one mile north of the McKendree church about 6 miles northeast of Georgetown. It was the center of politics for several years. When the writer (L. A. Tuggle) was a green young neophyte, he was a candidate for Township Collector of Georgetown Township. Busey was a voting precinct. He canvassed every farmer in their own homes. His wife had two uncles living in the Busey precinct — a total of 4 votes amongst the relatives. Every farmer and all 4 relatives promised to vote for him. He was gullible enough to believe every one of them in their fine (?) promises. When the votes were counted, he (L. A. Tuggle) got exactly "TWO" votes. Right then, he made a solemn oath never to be so "GULLIBLE" again in politics. He waited and learned "human nature" for 20 years before regaining confidence in promises. Busey has all disappeared and all the promises "Have Gone With The Wind."

CHARITY. Charity was located at the crossroads ¾ mile west of the present (1940) Craig school. The fine rolling prairie and the establishment of a Post Oflfice at Charity indicated a future city. Only beautiful farm houses remain of a once promising town.

CONKEYTOWN 75 years ago was quite a cluster of houses and a lively business was done. It was established in 1851. It had a postoffice. Today the town site is grown up in weeds. It was about one mile south of the Cass school house, or two miles south of Muncie.

DENMARK. This ancient town was settled in 1826 by Seymour Treat. Denmark was located at the foot of the hill on the road that now goes across Lake Vermilion northwest of Danville. By 1835, Denmark was important enough to have an independent rifle team. Its greatest prosperity was from 1835 to 1842. Denmark became a noted place. It had a bad name and whisky is alleged to have brought about its ruin. Brawls and street fights were alleged to be an everyday occurrence. Anyway, Denmark received a wet and watery grave because today nearly all the village lies at the bottom of Lake Vermilion.

ELLIS. Ellis was started in 1902 and was named in honor of Albert Ellis who owned the land on which the village was located. The Post Office was established in June, 1908, and was discontinued in May, 1935. Mr. E. R. Philabaum was the Post-master during the entire operation of the Ellis Post Office.
One of the first real rural Township High Schools established in Illinois was started at Ellis in 1914. The first year of this high school was held in the Ellis rural school house. One teacher, Hattie Diemer, was employed with 10 pupils in attendance. The second year (1915) of school was held in a vacant store building which was torn down about 1938. One teacher only, Hattie Diemer Monson, was employed.
In 1916, H. W. Wierman and Esther Johnson, were the teachers. In 1917, Principal Wm. Birdzell, Jennie Freeman and Marguerite Funk were the teachers. Principal Wm. Birdzell, Clara Stiegemeyer and Ruth Patton were employed for 1918-1919, but plans for a new school building failed to materialize and school was discontinued. Clark Morris, Guy Judy and Ephriam Driskell were called to the ''World War" from the Ellis high school in 1917.
The "FIRST" and "ONLY" graduating class were Lucile Duncan, Jack Morris, Rose Auth, Gertrude Weimken and Leone Goetchius in May, 1918. The district was divided in December, 1918, and pupils went to other high schools. The Board of Education refused to order an election for Board members in April, 1919, and by February 21st, 1920, the Ellis Township High School District No. 224 passed into oblivion. Thus began and ended a great rural city and a gallant high school.

FRANKLIN was once a thriving village located just north of North Fork river near Seaton Hill on the old Dixie highway. It was laid out in 1837 for Jacob Fisher and Hezekiah Rogers. Only a filling station is left near the site.

GERMANTOWN was organized July 6, 1874. The residents at that time were principally Germans so the village was called "Germantown." It remained a thriving and expanding village for many years, and became a part of the City of Danville September 28, 1905.

GILBERT was named after Alvan Gilbert, a pioneer resident of Rossville and who was a prominent member of the Board of Supervisors for many years. Gilbert was just west of the C. & E. I. Railroad halfway between Alvin and Bismarck. When the Illinois Central narrow gauge railroad was built from West Lebanon, Indiana, to Leroy, Illinois, Gilbert began to die, and Alvin started on its journey to grow into a fine village.

GLENBURN was platted a long time ago in 1885 but no important village seemed to be very promising. It was named after a town in Pennsylvania. It is one-half mile north of the Webster school northeast of Oakwood. There are several fine farm houses clustered together today at Glenburn.

GREENVILLE was platted in 1836. It was in Pilot Township southwest of Charity. Do you know where it was located? I don't.

GRIFFITH was in the extreme northwest corner of Pilot Township. There were 5 streets — Main, Vermilion, Griffith, Miller and Strickland. There was a post office but long since recalled. It was later named Gerald when the C. & E. I. Railroad passed through it.

HIGGINSVILLE. In January, 1837, Amando D. Higgins laid out some town lots on both sides of the Middlefork river on section 36, Twp. 21 N. Range 13 W. and called it "Vermilion Rapids." This town was beautifully platted and taken to New York to find purchasers. It was too late. The panic of 1837 had struck the East. The village had a store, post office, blacksmith shop, and a doctor in 1851 and was called Higginsville. For a long time Higginsville was a center of considerable population, but today only the school house by that name is left and the usual farm houses.

HIMROD. Several years ago Himrod was a thriving miningg village of 300 people. The village was one of the first mining towns, out on the prairie, in the county. All kinds of stores were flourishing, but today only the dilapidated brick village hall which was built in 1904 remains. Also the cemetery is a silent monument. Himrod was two miles east and one-half mile south of Westville.

HOPE. Hope was not a regular village but it had the usual country stores and the village blacksmith shop. The post office was established in 1873. Hope will aways be renowned as the birthplace of Carl Van Doren who wrote an American classic of biography, "Benjamin Franklin," which was a Pulitzer prize winner. Mark Van Doren, a brother of Carl's was also born at Hope. Mark Van Doren is a great writer and his poems are excellent. Carl Van Doren's book, "AN ILLINOIS BOYHOOD," is a classic story of rural life at HOPE, VERMILION COUNTY, ILLINOIS. All that remains of Hope in 1940 is a church, school house, filling station, a village hall, a few farm houses, and a long line of majestic maple trees on each side of route No. 49 in Pilot Township.

LICKSKILLET. Dr. A. M. Hawes came to Georgetown m 1836 and built up a very successful practice throughout the southern part of the county. In an early day, a store was established 2 miles northeast of Georgetown. Dr. Hawes, in making his rounds, saw how poor the land was around this store and told the folks in Georgetown that the soil was so poor that not enough food could be raised to "lick a skillet." Thereafter, whenever Dr. Hawes was called to that territory, he would leave word that he was going out to "Lickskillet." That name has "stuck" to this day (1940), although the village has disappeared.

MUNROE. Munroe was laid out in 1836 by Mayfield and J. C. Haworth on section 36 in the southeast corner of the county. They made a sale of lots and sold a few. Isaac T. Hunt opened up a store there in April, 1879, and did a fine business for a long time. He was deputy postmaster and the post office was called "LONG." Today, Bethel school and a church across the road are all that are left of MUNROE.

MYERSVILLE. This thriving village had first for its start the Chrisman mill. People came as far as 70 miles away to Myersville to trade and get milling done. Myersville lost the post office to Bismarck in 1872. The last earmarks of Myersville— that of an old grist mill— were removed in 1929. It was located 2 miles west of Bismarck.

NEW TOWN. This village was platted in 1838 and was once a thriving little town, one time having a post office and a flourishing Masonic lodge and building. Only a store, blacksmith shop, filling station, school and church remain today. It is about four miles north of Oakwood.

O'CONNELLSVILLE was established by O'Connell Brothers when they had a flourishing coal mine in the valley near Lafferty Hill. Lafferty Hill is due east of the Big Four Lyons railroad yards. Only a few homes remain.

PELLSVILLE. This village was platted in 1872. A post office, stores, Odd Fellows lodge, church and school all prospered. They even had a depot. Spirited rivalry existed between Rankin and Pellsville for over ten years, but at last Pellsville succumbed to Rankin and only the school house, one residence and a cemetery remain today. Pellsville was one and one-half miles west of Rankin.

PROSPECT CITY gave early promise of a good town. It was east of Hoopeston. It was laid out for Jane Taft in 1857 by A. D. Southworth, surveyor. When Hoopeston came into existence Prospect City passed on to an unknown grave.

RIOLA. Riola was first called Sandusky Station. Levi L. Dunnihoo built a store at Sandusky Station in 1888 and a post office was added in the spring of 1889. The post office was called Riola and hence, Sandusky Station became known as Riola. An ice house was built in 1888 which furnished ice to the farmers of the surrounding country. In 1889 a picture gallery was set up in a tent, which attracted many people to this little community.

M. L. Hill purchased the store and secured the post office in 1891. Mr. Hill also had a grain elevator built. For many, many years, Riola was the center of community attractions, but like many other small communities faded out of the picture when Mr. M. L. Hill moved to Danville. Today, Riola is only a memory.

SALEM. Salem was laid out in 1840 one mile east of Higginsville. A store had been kept there as early as 1837. It is all gone.

SOUTH DANVILLE was incorporated as a village in 1874. The territory being immediately across the river south of Danville it was named "South Danville." The oflicials of this village carried on a good government for many, many years till it was annexed to the City of Danville September 28, 1905. As one passes through South Danville today, the old "Public Square" is easily recognized.

STEELTON. When a new coal shaft was opened up out on the prairie on the C. & E. I. R. R. about five miles southwest of Westville a depot was built and a thriving village soon dotted the prairie. A two-room school was built. Stores and a post office were established. For years this mining village prospered but just as soon as the coal was gone, the village fell into decay. Today only one house remains, but no depot; no stores; no post office and only a one-room district school is maintained in the two-room building. (1940)

WATKINS GLEN west of Woodbury Hill on both sides of Happy Branch. It was platted by W. J. Watkins. Stores and mines were the sources of a livelihood. The new "Hungry Hollow" pavement runs through the once happy village. All gone now.

WEAVER CITY was laid out and platted for George Weaver on his own farm in 1872. It laid on both sides of the "Nickel Plate" railroad, east of Cheneyville near the Illinois-Indiana state line. Nothing marks its grave today.

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