OF ILLIOPOLIS THE FOUNDING
the passing of the original town of Illiopolis nearly a score of years elapsed
before the present village had its beginning.
This delay can be attributed to the sparseness of prairie settlements and
lack of public transportation. With
the invention of improved farm machinery, development of the land was
facilitated. The wooden moldboard
plow was replaced by a heavier type, strong enough to break the tough sod and to
be held to the furrow. Before the
invention of the McCormick reaper, grain had been harvested by hand with
"cradles" and steel sickles. The
threshing machine ended the slow laborious method of beating out the grain with
flails and winnowing it by hand.
coming of the railroad was another important factor contributing to the increase
in the farm population, and subsequently, the founding of the village.
With no near market and no way to transport products to distant, ones
except by cumbersome wagons over country lacking roads and bridges, crops were
fed to livestock which could transport themselves to the city packing houses.
The journey might take several days.
1854, the Great Western railroad came through and the first house was built for
a Mr. Ganson, the station agent, which he also used as a store.
A watering tank here, the water pumped by a windmill, was the only
station of that kind between the Sangamon River, near Springfield, and Decatur.
A mail route extended from here to Mt. Auburn and on to Buckhart Grove.
years after the coming of the railroad the town was founded by Colonel Thomas S.
Mather of Springfield, Timothy J. Carter, and Judge William Wilson of Carmi,
Illinois. Colonel Mather is said to
have laid out the town and named it for judge Wilson, owner of the land.
On October 15, 1856, they received a charter from the state.
Wilson, like many of the early settlers was born in Virginia and came to
Illinois after living for a short time in Kentucky.
He located in White County near Carmi where he made his home until his
death April 29, 1957. In 1819 he
was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and in 1825 was re-elected
as Chief Justice of the Court, his entire term covering a period of twenty nine
years. He was the father of five
sons and the following daughters; Mary Illinois, Margaret Eleanor, and Sarah.
Illinois, who was educated at New Harmony, Indiana, married Dr. Bernard Stuve of
Carmi and for six years they lived on land they owned southeast of Illiopolis.
Eleanor was the wife of John M. Pearson and they were the parents of Isaac,
Agnes, and Dr. Will Pearson, owners of land adjoining the village, which is
still in the possession of the Pearson heirs and has long been farmed by the
Michael Murphy family.
village continued to be called Wilson until 1869, although the post office was
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