Monroe County, Illinois

This history was extracted from the following book on:


Combined History of Randolph, Monroe and Perry Counties, Illinois

Published by J. L. McDonough & Co.

Philadelphia 1883



 Pages 449-453

Columbia precinct, formerly called Eagle, had in 1880 a population of 2,242.  It occupies the extreme northern part of the county.  The bluffs that separate the bottom from the upland divide its territory into two nearly equal areas.  The greater portion of the precinct is in tp. 1 S., ranges 10 and 11 W.   The northern triangular part is in tp. 1 N., ranges 10 and 11 W.  Carrel Island, so named from Samuel Carrel, who was once its owner, containing about one hundred and fifty acres of land, lies in the Mississippi, and is a part of Columbia precinct.  Drainage and water supply are afforded by streams and lakes; the latter in the bottom.  The largest of these, Fish and Long lakes, lie in a line with each other, nearly parallel with the river. The former, so called from the large quantities of fish that inhabited its waters, receives through Trumbull and Carr creeks and the greater part of the drainage of the highland.  It is a resort of some importance for lovers of piscatorial sport.  In 1857 an outlet from it to the river was formed to prevent overflow.  Hill lake, partly in St. Clair county, is a small body of water lying in the bottom. The entire territory of the precinct was originally wooded.  The timber in the bottom was heavy and of different varieties both of hard and soft wood.  The staple production is wheat, although corn is quite extensively cultivated west of the bluffs.  Coal has been mined to some extent in the vicinity of the town of Columbia, but is believed not to exist in regular measures.  Limestone rock of an excellent quality for building purposes is quarried near the village, and shipped to St. Louis and other points.  The St. Louis & Cairo R. R. extends northwest and southeast through its territory, and affords convenient shipping advantages.  The inhabitants are principally of German nativity and descent, and the language of the Fatherland is principally that of the fireside and social life.

The oldest permanently settled place is what is now Columbia precinct was Whiteside station, which was established by the Flannaries.  James Flannary, in 1783, was killed by the Indians.  This was three years prior to the first decisive Indian war waged against the Americans, in Illinois.  This war began in 1786, and continued till 1795.  The dangers, sufferings and hardships of the settlers were almost with out a parallel.  Not least conspicuous among those who shared and endured them, were the Whitesides.  The original pioneers of that name were Davis, Samuel, William and John L., brothers of John D., a cousin of the latter.  William and Mary his wife, in the year 1793, settled in section 26, Township 1, south, Range 10, west on the St. Louis and Waterloo road, a little southeast of Columbia village.  He came to Illinois, as captain of a company of mounted rangers and immediately began the protection and defense of the settlers.  His eldest daughter, Elizabeth, the next year after arrival of the family at the station, became the wife of John Moore.  Their first child Sebastian, was born there in 1795.  In this same year, General John D. Whiteside, youngest issue of William and Mary, was born.  The births of these children are presumably the first (white children) in the precinct.  General Whiteside was reared at the station, and his early educational advantages were necessarily limited.  Nevertheless he was a man not only of strength of intellect but of refined tastes.  During his life, he held several official positions of State and National importance, and was once tendered the nomination for governor by the Democratic party, but declined the honor.  President Polk appointed him Commissioner to confer with the Government of Great Britain relative to complications that existed, concerning the Illinois State bonds.  He held the rank of Adjutant General, and at the outbreak of the Mexican war, entered the service and did duty in the work of organizing and training the volunteer troops.  Bolin Whitesdale was born in North Carolina, in 1717, and came to Illinois with his father, in 1793.  He grew to manhood at the station homestead.  He was a natural soldier and served as a captain of mounted rangers throughout the war of 1812, and Black Hawk war.  About the year 1800, he married a Miss Randall, of St. Clair county.  Sarah Whiteside was born in North Carolina, in 1790, and came with the family to the station.  She married John F. McCollum, Elvira Marshall, who resides near Sacramento city, California is the sole survivor of the family. 

The Whitesides and their early connections were born and raised on the frontiers of North Carolina, and immigrated to Kentucky.  They had been inured to Indian hostilities and other hardships incident to frontier life from their early years to manhood.  The patriarch and leader, William Whiteside, had been a brave soldier in the revolutionary war, and was in the celebrated battle of "King's Mountain."  To be a soldier in the battle of King's Mountain is an honor of itself.  The Whiteside family were of Irish descent and inherited much of the Irish character. They were warm-hearted, impulsive and patriotic.  Their friends were always right, and their foes always wrong in their estimation.  William erected a fort on the road from Cahokia to Kaskaskia, which became celebrated as "Whiteside's Station."  At this station Whiteside raised a large family of children.

In 1795, Captain Whiteside gathered to his standard his small but trusty company: Samuel and William L. Whiteside, Samuel Judy, Isaac Enochs, Johnson J. Whiteside and others, to the number of fourteen, and attacked and killed a camp of Indians of considerable number, who, the French at Cahokia had informed him, had assembled at the bluff in pursuance of a meditate attack upon him or his property.  In this battle he was wounded as he supposed mortally.  He fell to the ground, but still exhorted his men to fight bravely.  His son Uel, whose arm was disabled so that he could not use his gun, examined the wound of his father, and found that the bullet had not passed through the body, but having been deflected, was lying near the skin.  He took his butcher knife and cut it it out.  The old warrior sprang to his feet and said: "Boys, I can still fight the Indians."  The "evil wind" of this bloody encounter blew fruits of gladness and good cheer.  The captain's sons afterward married the two accomplished daughters of the Widow Rains, and American lady in Cahokia, at whose house they dressed their wounds.

From this time forward till 1811, the settlers enjoyed the blessing of peace and security.  But at this date the Indians again commenced depredations, and Captain Whitside, was elected Colonel of St. Clair county militia, and held that office for many years.  After peace with the Indians, he turned his attention to his farm, at the station, and improved it.  He cultivated a fine apple orchard, which in days gone by was quite celebrated, as there were very few orchards in the country.  In 1812, he organized the militia of St. Clair county, and prepared them for active service.  He attended personally at Camp Russel, near Edwardsville, in carrying out the military operations in defense of the frontiers.  He died at this residence in the year 1815.  He and his wife were both buried at the station.

A number of improvement claims lie scattered over the precinct, indicating permanent settlements, prior to the year 1788.  Claim 228, was improved by Jacob Stillman, and comprises the southeastern portion of the territory of Columbia, while Claim 2058, improved by Thomas Winn, embraces the northwestern part.  Claim 501, was improved by Joseph Lacoutouer; claim 408, Robert Watt; claim 505, Francis Bellew; claim 487, James Piggott.  These claims lie in the northern part of the precinct, adjoining one another on the north and south, and embrace the Mississippi Bluffs throughout their point of extent.  Souteast of these and less than a half mile south of Fountain creek, lies claim 607, improved by Jacob Groats.  South of this lie adjoining claims 521, improved by Nicholas Smith; 573, Charles Wood.  Claim 571, improved by Leonard Harness, lies in the western part, and claim 543, improved  by Charles Gill, some distance south of it. Claim 520, is the seat of the celebrated Whiteside Station.

The Wilsons were originally from Maryland.  They moved to Kentucky, and about the year 1800, came from that State to Illinois.  There were three brothers, Otho, Edward and William.  Otho married Elizabeth Biggs, and settled on section 7, a mile and a-half northwest of Columbia. Here he improved a farm, and lived and died.  His children were Zeborah, Nancy, Edward, William and Sarah.  He served as a soldier in the war of 1812, and also in the Black Hawk war.  Edward married Catherine Ryan, and settled in St. Clair county.  William married Matilda Wallace, and settled on section 9, three-fourths of a mile northwest of Columbia. Here he improved a large farm and made it his home ofr life.  He served in the war of 1812, and in the Black Hawk war.  His children J. H., Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary, Deborah, Louis M. and George W., are all living but Mary.  J. H., has served the county at different times, for the period of ten years, as Sheriff, and is the present incumbent of the post-office.  William Biggs owned a farm a little north of Columbia.  His advent probably antedated that of the Wilsons.  He kept a place of public entertainment, on the old Kaskaskia road, one half mile north of Columbia, near a spring of lasting water.  This was one of the first stopping places between Kaskaskia and St. Louis, and existed as early as 1800.

George Ramsay came from Virginia about the year 1803.  He married Nancy Chance, in 1805, and settled on Fish Lake in the bottom. In 1816, he bought land one and a half miles north of Columbia, of Joseph Ogle.  Benjamin Ogle owned land adjoining, where he resided permanently and died. The Ogles were from Virginia, with families of several children and were very old settlers.  James Bradshaw and his wife, from Kentucky, settled on the S. E. of section 35, in 1814.  Here he resided for life and died about 1845.  His children were, Mabel, Mary, John and Sylvester.  Jacob Neff, was of German descent.  In 1814, he settled on the W. of the S. W. of section 25, Township1, south Range11, west.  He was a plain, industrious farmer and had a family of four daughters and two sons, who moved to Missouri.  Mr. Neff died on his farm at an advanced age.  Thomas Porter, was a sporting man and lover of horseracing.  He lived on Fish Lake, in the bottom in 1814.  He died on his farm. John Beaird was a prominent and influential business man as well as farmer.  He settled in section 24, Township 1 south, Range 10 west, in 1817, and became a large land owner and kept ten or twelve slaves.  Thomas Nelson, in the same year, settled on the N. W. of section 26, and built a cabin, still standing, in which he lived till about 1830.  He reared a family of six sons, all above six feet in stature, and one or two daughters.  He died near Nashville, Washington county. Richard Aklas lived on Fish Lake, in the bottom, some time prior to 1817.  He had a family of several children.  One, McKann, a surveyor, was a large land owner, married Mrs. Sarah Scott mother of Levi and George.  He lived on Fish Lake, in the bottom, as early as 1817.  Samuel Hill, came from Virginia and brought a family, and settled on land he entered, being the W. of the n. W. of section 4.  He was an influential man, and became a large land owner, and also kept a number of slaves.  In 1818, he entered land in section 4, and resided there until his death.  Leonard Carr, a German, lived on the creek that now bears his name, formerly called by the French, Gran Risseau, in section 20.  Here he entered land in 1818.  He reared a large family. John Divers, came from Baltimore, Maryland, about 1822, and settled one mile west of Columbia.  Mr. Divers was the owner of slaves.  He became a successful and wealthy farmer, and was also interested in milling.  His death occurred in Columbia, in 1849.  George Divers, his son, is at present mayor of that town.

William Morgan with a wife and several children, arrived from Kentucky about the same time.  He lived all his life in the vicinity of Columbia, and died there.  James Shepherd, about 1826, came to the precinct, with his wife and two children, and settled in section 25.  Here he improved a small place and lived a number of hears.  John Ryan was a single man, and married Susan Gall.  About 1826, he settled on section 25, township 1 south, range 10 west.  He reared two daughters.  His death occurred in Waterloo.  Dr. Shoemaker came to the precinct from New Orleans in 1833, and settled on the E. of the N. W. of section 26.  He was educated as a physician, in Philadelphia.  Rev. Nolan, father of Dr. James Nolan, during his life a prominent and influential citizen of Columbia village, was among the very first preachers in the precinct.  A school was taught by Levi Piggott in a log house that stood in the timber near a spring as early as 1817.  This spring still discharges its waters into Biggs' creek, a little north of Columbia.  The Palmier graveyard is the oldest burial place in the precinct.  It was laid out on the Ogles' estate not far short of a century ago.  The remains of surveyor general William Rector lie buried there.  The Germans began immigration about 1835.  In this year arrived Robert and Peter Frierdich, brothers; Joseph Platz; john Beckele and Valentine Jansen, brothers-in-law; John Pfeffer, John Bohlman, Elmer Horner, Daniel Kline and Godleib Huck arrived in 1836.  The following are the first land entries:  The estate of N. Jarrott entered May 1, 1815, the fractional section 31, township 1 south, range 10 west:  A. Bradshaw entered September 7, 1814, the S. W. of section 24; Thomas Nelson, February 10, 1817 the E.  of the N. W. of section 26; Adlada Perry May 1, 1815, in the N. W. of section 7, one hundred and forty-five acres; January 24, 1817, Samuel Hill, the W. of the N. W. of section 4, eighty-one and seventy-four hundredths acres; January 16, 1818, Edward Wilson, one hundred and four and forty hundredths acres in the S. W. of section 9.

Town of Columbia

It is situated in the northeastern part of the precinct, near the center of township 1 south, range 10 west.  In size and importance it ranks second in the county only to Waterloo, and has a population numbering 1,308.  The southeastern part is the oldest, and was laid out on land of Louis Nolan in the year 1820. Several additions have been made to the town, among which was one made by Wilson and Gordon, near the center, about 1849.  It was surveyed and platted by John B. Whiteside, but never recorded.  The first building within the corporate limits of the town was a log cabin that stood southeast of the village proper, on the west side of, and not far from Waterloo road.  Charles Walker taught a school here as early as 1815.  And the building was probably used for this purpose at an earlier date.  A double log house was put up by David Robinson and used as a dwelling and hotel, probably as early as 1825. About 1828 Robert Coleman built an ox-mill. It is still standing, repaired and improved, and is doing duty as a hotel.  J. B. Smith and one Steward sold the first goods in a log building that stood near the mill. Joshua Parker had the first blacksmith shop.  The post-office was established as early as 1830, and probably a little earlier.  About 1840 Philip Smith made beer in a frame brewery building, still seen in a condition of half dilapidation.  The Methodist Episcopal church was built in 1843 at a cost of $600.  About 1865 it was remodeled at a cost of $1,200.  It was originally designed and used for school as well as church purposes.  It is a frame building 30 by 40 feet. The Old Lutheran church is a brick edifice, and is in size 36 by 44 feet.  It was built in 1849, at a cost of $2300.  The Evangelical (Lutheran) church was built of brick, in 1850, at a cost of $2500.  The school-house appurtenant to the church is a brick building, and was raised about 1862.  School was maintained in it till five years since.  The Methodist church, south, is a brick building and was erected in 1866, for a school-house and Masonic hall.  Shortly after it was purchased by the congregation, and the second story, which had been the hall, was converted into an audience room, while the lower part continued to be used for a public school-room, and served for that purpose until the present public school-house was erected.

The (Catholic) Church of the Immaculate Conception is a handsome brick edifice with sandstone trimmings, and was built in 1867, at a cost of $24,000.  Associated with it is a school, taught in the former church, which was built in 1848 or 1849.  There is an average daily attendance f about one hundred pupils, who are under the charge of three of the Sisters.  The priest's house, a tow story brick, was built in 1858 or 1859, and cost about $3,500.

The Gardner Roller Mill was originally built of brick by John Divers, William H. Gaile, and Stephen Gardner, about 1835.  It was burned in 1844, and was immediately rebuilt by Mr. Gardner alone.  In 1856 it again fell a victim to the flames, and was a second time rebuilt.  The property changed hands in 1864, and came into the possession of Afflick and Phelps.  The latter died about a year after the purchase, and Afflick became the owner.  He afterward sold the property to Switzer, who owned it till 1874, when it was purchased by Thomas Koenigsmark, its present proprietor and operator.  It is at the present writing a five story brick structure, whose foundation is 40 by 70 feet in area.  The floor of the engine and boiler-room is 20 by 65 feet.  Above them, on the same foundation, is the packing room.  The mill contains a complete roller system, consisting of thirteen sets of rolls, two pairs.  Above them, on the same foundation, is the packing room.  The mill contains a complete roller system, consisting of thirteen sets of rolls, two pairs of middling burrs, six scalping reels, and sixteen flouring reels, four middling purifiers, also a bran duster, three flour packers, and one bran packer.  The wheat cleaning machine consists of three wheat brushes, two shakers and two screen reels. The capacity of the mill is 250 barrels in twenty-four hours.  Shipment is effected by means of two private switches connecting with the St. Louis and Cairo Railroad, upon which the company run their cars.  The cooper shop attached turns out from six hundred and fifty seven hundred flour barrels weekly.

The Columbia Star Mill was built in 1865, by James and William Nimerick, at a cost of about $25,000. It had four run of burrs, and produced about 150 barrels of flour a day.  It was built of brick, four stories high, on a foundation 40x50 feet. An addition 20x50 feet was built in 1880, and another, 20x60 feet, in 1882.  Its present capacity is three hundred barrels a day.  It was seven run of burrs, three sets of rolls and twenty reels.  The warehouse is of brick, three stories, and forty-five feet square.  Its storage capacity is fifty thousand bushels of wheat.  The cooper shop connected with the mill employs fifteen men, and turns out three hundred barrels daily.  Mr. Henry Huck is the present proprietor and operator.

The Monroe Brewery is a brick building, erected in 1856, by John Jundlach at a cost of about $30,000.  It is now occupied by the Klausmann Brewery company, of South St. Louis.  Its annual capacity is six thousand barrels of beer. Underneath the building there are beer caves, capable of receiving in storage about 3500 barrels of beer.  There is also a malt hosue and mineral water establishment connected with the business.

The Public School building was erected in 176.  It is a handsome brick structure with limestone trimmings, and is an ornament to the village.  It cost about $13,000; it contains six school-rooms in which as many schools are taught, by male teachers.  An effort is now being made looking into a higher and more efficient scholarship.  The first newspaper in the village, the Gazette, was established February, 1880, by E. H. Ellis.  It had an existence of only five weeks.  The Voice of Monroe was founded by its present proprietor, Peter W. Baker, May 5, 1880.  Ground was broken Oct. 12, 1882, for the new Masonic Hall, now in process of erection.  The building, a brick with limestone trimmings, three stories and 33x70 feet floor, will cost when completed the sum of $7000.  The third floor will be used as a Masonic and the second as a public hall. The first will be devoted to business.  Within the territorial limits of the village there is a mineral spring, containing sulphur and magnesia.  Its owner, August T. Weinel, purposes to erect a bath house in connection with it the following season.  The growth of the village, though not rapid, has been of a substantial character.  The buildings are well constructed, of brick and limestone rock, and the streets well paved and drained.  The charter of incorporation, approved February 19, 1859, was granted to the following trustees:  Stewart McKee, Lafayette Warnock, John Gundlach, John Ferkel and John Jost.  Officers: President, Stewart McKee; Clerk, H. A. Boreman; Treasurer, John Ferkel.

Present Business

Pysicians M. G. Nixon, William Rose, William Grippenburg, John Pflueger.

Justice Lafayette Warnock.

Notary Henry Riebeling.

General Stores Henry H. Siemens, Edward Heiligstedt, Reid & Schuler, John Pfeffer & Son, Henry Schaiper, Henry Voges, Frederick Meyer.

Drug Store Wm. Rose, L. E. Seyffardt.

Hardware, Farming Implements and Machinery C. Breidecker.

Tailors _ John Petera, Henry Beck, Ferdinand Haberloch, John Ehret.

Shoe Makers John Deitrich, Fred'k Herold, Edward Fiege, J. Fruka.

Harness Makers Frank Fahney, Wm. Kremmel, John Kolb.

Blacksmiths Jacob Lotz, P. W. Miller, William Schaeffer, Joseph Rauch, Daniel Kraus, Joseph Wuest, Frank Riebeling.

Wagon Makers George Schmidt, John Schmidt, Henry Schmidt, Henry Riebeling, Jacob Schaffenberger.

Carpenters Frederick Kock, Joseph Brandt, August Walhausen.

Milliner Mrs. Ellen Smith.

Dressmakers Mrs. Sophie Schneider, Miss Minnie Timmermann.

Livery Stable and Lumber Yard August F. Weinel.

Hotels John T. Angerer, Jacob Weinel.

Boarding Houses Jacob Ferkel, John Eichmueller, Charles Juengling.

Saloons P. C. Schneider, Henry Siemens, E. Heiligstedt, Henry Reichenbach, Hnery Schuerman, John B. Schmidt, Jacob A. Schmidt, Joseph Vahle, P. C. Schneider.

Cabinet Makers Charles Schneider, Frederick Litzenberger

Tinware _ Philip Wilde, Louis Kuehner.

Barbers Charles Reis, Louis Ritter, Paul Wilde.

Machinery Agents James Warnock, John A. Gray.

Butchers James Stephan, Augustus Rohm & Bro., Frederick Illgner

Cigar Makers H. Kunz, G. Pentzler.

Post Office C. Breidecker.

Jeweler J. Bersche, Max Seybeck.

Brick Yards Henry Heullinghorst, William Dankenbring.

Foreman Star Mills Cooper- Shop James Habermehl.

Foreman Gardner Mills Cooper Shop Joseph Tolar.


Columbia Turnverein was chartered May 24, 1866. Its membership at present numbers 26.  Turner's hall, owned by the society, is its place of meeting.

Columbia Lodge, No. 477, A.F.& A. M. was chartered Oct 3, 1866.  Jan. 6th following was the date of the first meeting.  The names of 61 active members appear at present upon its rolls, and it is in a sound financial condition.

The Columbia Singing Society was organized about 18448.  It became a body corporate by grant of charter August 19, 1871.  It has 44 members and meets in Liberty Hall.  It has control of the books (about two hundred volumes) belonging to the Library Association, which was chartered about 1870.

Columbia Lodge, No. 379, D.O. H., was chartered in 1875.  It has about 75 members, and $900 in the treasury.  The Hall in which its meeting take place is held by the society under a five years lease.

Masonic Lodge, No. 165, A. O. W., was chartered Mar 31, 1880.  It has 54 members and $250 in the treasury.