Calhoun County

1934 History of Calhoun County

Chapter 5 ~ Early Villages and Communities


The first settler on the present site of Brussels was John Mettz who came in 1822. Joshua Twichell moved from Coles Grove in the same year and started a blacksmith's shop.

Several German families, from the province of Hanover, came to the Brussels vicinity in 1843. By 1850 a number of Irish had arrived and settled to the south and east of the town. In the 50's and the 60's many German people came to the neighborhood; those belonging to the Lutheran faith settled to the west and southwest of the present village of Brussels, while most of the Germans belonging to the Catholic faith settled with the limits of the village and to the east and south.

The French and Irish that had settled near Brussels had moved away to a considerable extent, and by 1910 less than a dozen families of them could be found in a ten miles radius of Brussels.


The village of Batchtown had several names before the present one was adopted. The village together with the surrounding farms was known as "Richwoods" in the fifties. Later, the people speaking of the place frequently called it "Sam White's", after the leading merchant of the county. Later it was called "Batchelder ville", probably in honor of William Batchelder, who was living in the village in the sixties. He had been a Justice of the Peace, a merchant, and an owner and operator of a corn mill, which was later changed to a flour mill. In 1879 a post-office was established and the official name became Batchtown.

We cannot discuss the early history of Batchtown without mentioning the name of Samuel White. Mr. White, a native of Missouri, came to Calhoun in 1851. He attended the district school at Batchtown, McKendree College, and a business college. When he was 21 (in 1866) he sold the property that he had inherited from his father and invested the $2,500 for goods for a store which he started at Gilead. In 1868 he moved to Batchtown. Here he erected a two-story building, 45 feet across the front and 75 feet deep. He filled it with a complete stock of groceries, dry goods, shoes, and hardware. He was also a dealer in farm machinery.

Mr. White erected a flour mill in Batchtown and the farmers from the entire southern and central part of the county brought grain to this mill. This mill was remodeled in 1878 and 1890. His store was the largest and best known in the county in the period of 1870 to 1890.

Another merchant who was doing business in Batchtown, but before the time of Sam White, was Thomas J. Douglas.

The Lowe family came to Batchtown in 1866. John Lowe was School Treasurer for fourteen years and his son, Austin, has succeeded him and served for many years. Austin also served as Justice of the Peace for many years.

Among the other early settlers in the Batchtown neighborhood were Robert C. Beaty, who came in the 40's or early 50's; David Davis Cockrell, who came in the early 60's; Dr. James D. Douglas, who came to Richwoods about 1855 and practiced medicine; Justus Franke, who sailed from Germany in 1866 and came to Calhoun two years later; William H. Smith, who came in 1843; and A. C. Wilson, who settled in the county in 1849. Mr. Wilson formerly owned the land upon which Batchtown is now built.


In the year 1822, Pike County included all of the territory from the mouth of the Illinois River up to the present Wisconsin line, and to Lake Michigan. At the election of that year there were just three places where the inhabitants of that vast strip of territory might vote and one of those places was Coles Grove. As has been mentioned before the first court in Pike County was held here. In 1823 when the county seat was moved to Atlas, Coles Grove remained a voting place.

When the town was chosen as the county seat of Calhoun County in 1825, the name was changed to Gilead. One of the principal reasons for its importance in the early days was because it was the home of John Shaw, who was probably the best known Calhoun citizen in the days before the Civil War.

Shaw had taken part in the Indian wars in 1813 and had settled in Gilead in the early days. In speaking of his coming to Calhoun, Shaw said:

"In the early part of 1821, I commenced clearing and setting up a farm between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, at a point where Gilead is now located. Year after year I extended my farming interests until I cultivated 1200 acres of land in one year and had nearly 400 head of cattle."

Shaw lived at Gilead for some time, started a ferry across the Mississippi River at Clarksville in 1825, and about 1830 he settled at the present site of Hamburg. He had been a member of the Legislature before Calhoun was organized as a county and he probably used his influence in having Gilead made the county seat.

Gilead became a town of importance when it was made the county seat. In 1837, a book that contained a description of all towns in the state, had the following to say about Gilead:

"Gilead has two stores and a dozen families. The court house is of brick, two stories, 30 feet square, and finished outside."

A post-office was established in Gilead and a report made to the government in 1831 shows that the business done by the Gilead office was greater than the combined business of the other two offices in the county, at Hamburg and Belleview.

During the first two weeks of January, 1847, the court house at Gilead was destroyed by fire, but all of the county records seem to have been saved, probably because several of the county officers had their offices in another building. A small house located on the village square was rented from Daniel T. Simpson as a meeting place for the County Commissioners. On January 18, the Commissioners were considering the rebuilding of the court house, but on February 23, they decided that an election should be held to see if Gilead should remain the county seat or if some other town in the county should be chosen. At this meeting it was decided that Hamburg should be the temporary county seat.

The Wilkinson, Plummers, and Hapers settled in the neighborhood of Gilead at an early date and played an important part in the building of the community. In 1825 Jacob Crader and his son, Samuel Grader, moved into the Salt Spring Hollow. The Byrds, Wises, Schells, Pillersons, and Stiles arrived soon after. Most of these families came from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in covered wagons, and all, with the exception of the Stiles family, settled north of Gilead.

In 1929, Jacob Crader moved to a point six miles northeast of Gilead and built two water power corn mills. In the same year Samuel Crader moved from Gilead and settled in Indian Creek, where he built a blacksmith's shop and a water power mill.

All of the land upon which the village of Hamburg is now located was once owned by John Shaw. He moved to this land sometime in the late 20's, and in the year 1830 a post-office was established. Shaw was appointed postmaster, a position that he held for 23 years. In 1834 the town site was surveyed by James Shaw, a civil engineer and a brother of John Shaw. In 1834 the town was described, in an emigrants' guide, in the following words:

"Hamburg, a landing on the Mississippi River in Calhoun County, and the residence of John Shaw, Esq., ten miles northwest of Gilead. The landing is said to be good, and the bank high. There is a postoffice by the same name."

Mrs. Caroline Dewey, an early settler, in speaking of the town in the early days, said:

"Sometime during the latter part of 1840 or 1841, my father sold his place and moved to Hamburg. It was quite a little village at that time. There were a couple of stores and a saloon or two. Lumbering was carried on at that time and this made Hamburg a lively place. My father bought a lot close to the river, and built a house upon the lot. We lived there at the time of the launching of the steamboat that was built by John Shaw, the pioneer citizen of the village and its founder."

John Shaw and his steamboat have long been a mystery to the people of Calhoun. He built this boat at Hamburg and spent most of his money in the enterprise. He had people from miles around bring their surplus produce to Hamburg to be shipped to the market down the river. John Lammy, in his short history of the county, said:

"Shaw considered St. Louis too small a place for the patronage of his boat, so he steamed on down the river to New Orleans, from whence it appears he never came back."

At any rate, Mr. Lammy, who was sheriff of the county, did not know what became of Shaw. In 1891, Percy Epler in one of his articles on Calhoun County that appeared in a Chicago paper, said:

". . . and he loaded his boat and steamed down the Mississippi. This was the last seen of John Shaw. Whether he succeeded in selling the cargo, or whether the nameless boat fell into the hands of the government is not known to this day."

Recently the writer of this booklet discovered some of the writings of Shaw in the Wisconsin Historical Collection that were written after he disappeared from Calhoun. In one of articles, Shaw mentions the steamboat.

"But in 1841'', he says, "I was induced to build a steamboat, and it was the first one on the river above St. Louis, and it bore my name by special desire of my friends. And the total loss of the boat a year after, caused me a loss of $80,000. This so broke me up that in 1845, I came to Wisconsin, . . . and finally located at St. Marie."

Hamburg was selected to serve as the county seat in 1847, when the court house had been destroyed at Gilead. The first meeting of the County Commissioners was held on March 16, 1847. Only two Commissioners were present as James Guy, one of the Commissioners, had died sometime between the meeting of February 23rd, and this meeting.

The Commissioners decided to use a house, formerly occupied by John Shaw as a store, as a voting place and a place where official business might be conducted. On March 18th, Stephen Farrow was granted a license to run a ferry across the Illinois River at Farrowtown (later called Kampsville).

Augustas Bartell was granted a license to run a ferry at Hamburg and was allowed to charge the same rates as the ferry at Clarksville.

On August 12, 1847, the people of Hamburg presented a petition to the County Commissioners asking them to refrain from moving the county seat over to Child's Landing, but this place was selected in spite of the objections of the Hamburg people.

The last meeting of the County Commissioners at Hamburg was held September 8, 1847. At this meeting the sale of the old court house and the old Square at Gilead was ordered.

The first settler in the neighborhood of Hamburg was Mr. Mozier who settled north of the present site of the town and near what is now Mozier Landing. In 1829 Samuel Crader settled in the Indian Creek neighborhood. Among the other early settlers were Abner Gresham, Wesley Bovee, Louis and Jackson Swarnes, Asher Squiers, C. C. Squiers, Miltin Stone, Mr. Wineland, Mr. Dorr, Louis Puterbaugh, S. H. Stone, I. N. Jackson, William Phillips, I. J. Varner, H. D. Ruyle, Charles Edwards, Hewt Long, Alfred Carnes, John and William Lammy, Anton Dirksmeyer, Rotger Freesmeyer, Bradford Gresham, William Poor, Charles Schlieper, Sr, and Silas Wilson.


The first settler at what is now Hardin was Dr. William Terry. He stopped at the home of Ebenezer Smith on his arrival in Calhoun and then built a house near the present site of the Town Hall in Hardin. The place was known as "Terry's Landing" until the arrival of Benjamin Childs in 1835. Mr. Childs purchased the land from Terry and from that time until the place was made the county seat, it was known as "Childs' Landing".

Mr. Childs built a home and engaged in the mercantile business. He also operated the landing and shipped much cordwood, staves, and lumber to the St. Louis market. The third house to be built at Childs' Landing was constructed by James Dewey. He cut the trees in the bottom opposite Kampsville and rafted them down the river. He landed the raft at Childs' Landing on the 4th day of March, 1844.

It was not until the construction of the county buildings that Childs' Landing became important. An early writer in speaking of the changing of the county seat said:

"When the Court House and the jail burned at Gilead there was much rivalry to see what town should be the capital of the county. Gilead, Hamburg, and Childs' Landing were the ones desiring it. Benj. J. Childs offered five acres of land and fifty thousand bricks if the county seat were moved to his landing. In order to cinch the thing, he gave a barbecue and free dinner to everybody, and I was one of those everybodies who took advantage of the free dinner. When the votes were counted, Childs' Landing had more votes than the combined vote of the other two points."

As was mentioned before, the Hamburg people objected to the election and presented a petition to the Commissioners. The clerk of the Commissioners Court summarized the petition as follows:

"The citizens of Hamburg and adjacent neighborhood presented a petition remonstrating against any action being taken by this court in regard to their taking any steps toward he building of a court house at Childs' Landing, setting forth in said petition that said landing in the last election obtained a majority by fraudulent means. The court upon consideration adjudged that they had nothing to do in the matter of the said petition, and that the petitioners had leave to withdraw the said petition."

On August 12, 1847, the Commissioners agreed that the County Seat should be at Childs' Landing "for it would be more satisfactory to the citizens, generally," and that the Commissioners should "cause the same to be laid off into a town, as also a Public Square, for the purpose of erecting a court house thereon." At the same meeting the Commissioners agree to meet at Childs' Landing on the 26th of August, 1847.

The five acres of land given by Mr. Childs' was the land upon which most of the business houses at Hardin now stand. Part of the land was reserved as a place where the public buildings might be erected, and the remainder was divided into lots and sold to the highest bidder. The person purchasing the lots could have either six or twelve months to pay for the land. The money received from the sale of the lots was used in constructing the public buildings.

One of the first buildings to be erected was the court house. It was to be 36 by 30 feet, two stories high, and made of brick. In December, 1847, the contract was let for $1,199. In September, 1848, the contractor, William D. Hamilton, notified the court that he had completed the court house. The next building of importance was the jail, which was to 32 by 20 feet, and contain a strong cell. The lowest bidder was B. W. Hamilton, and the amount of the bid was $1,275. The work was done by sub-contractors, Benjamin Childs and William D. Hamilton. The jail was completed in 1850.

The name of the new county seat was changed to "Hardin" in 1847, but the Commissioners Records do not state the reason why this name was chosen, although they gave their approval to the name. Mrs. Caroline Dewey, whose husband had been living at Childs' Landing since 1844, gives the following explanation for the name of the town:

"The town was laid out in the year 1847, and, the name Hardin was selected in honor of Col. John J. Hardin. At the outbreak of the Mexican War, he was commissioned Colonel of the first Illinois Volunteers, and was killed while leading a charge, early in the year 1847. The horse from which he fell was shipped to some point up the river that spring on the steamer, "Movaster". I remember quite well the landing of the boat at then Farrowtown, now Kampsville, and it was said at the time that Col. Hardin's horse, from which he fell, was on the boat."

The first meeting of the County Commissioners at the new county seat took place on December 6, 1847. The three Commissioners, Daniel T. Simpson, Adam Harpole, and Henry G. Stiles, were present. John Chauncey, the Clerk, and West M. Miller were also present. In 1854, James Dewey applied for a license to run and operate a saloon in Hardin. This license was granted, and a fee of $50 was charged. This saloon of Mr. Dewey's was in operation for many years and was one of the best known places of its kind in the county. It was located on the corner, just west of the Herald office.

In 1854 there were a number of business places in Hardin. Stephen and John Lewis were in the mercantile business, their store being located just north of the present site of the Town Hall. John Gilbert kept a dry goods store, a saloon, and a hotel.

Another merchant that was prominent in the early days was Andrew Uhrig. He settled in Calhoun in 1829 along the Hurricane Island Slough, north of Hardin. Being a man of wealth, he engaged largely in the mercantile business. He owned a boat, the "Pearl", which operated for many years on the Illinois River. He planted the first vineyard, and sold the first beer in the county. While living north of Hardin, he engaged in the mercantile business. In 1847, he moved to Childs' landing and worked to have it made the county seat. He started a store and a saloon in the building just south of the court house. The place was later called the "Perry House."

In 1858 there were four lawyers living in Hardin. They were Frank M. and James F. Greathouse, Stephen Lewis, and D. M. McKinney.

One of the first settlers in the Hardin neighborhood was Ziprien Lamar. He died while a young man (1831) but left a son, also called Ziprien. When this son, Ziprien, grew to manhood he cleared much land and made himself a useful citizen. He was married in 1858 and became the father of seven children, one of whom was Charles H. Lamar, for many years the editor of the Calhoun Herald.

The Hardin Post Office was established in 1847 and Benjamin Childs was the first Postmaster. He served continuously from 1847 to 1887, with the exception of the Buckanan Administration.


Two of the earliest settlers in Crater Precinct, in which Kampsville is located, were Jacob Crader and Salmon Bushnell. We find Mr. Crader moving from the west side of the county to a place several miles south of the present site of Kampsville, in the year 1830. Two years later he moved from the bluff to the river, at a place now called "Crater Landing". Mr. Bushnell settled at the present site of Kampsville, and operated a ferry. The place was known as "Bushnell's Ferry". Other settlers in the Kampsville neighborhood in the pre-civil war period were George Bechdolt, who settled in 1839, David Nevius in the 40's, James Foiles in 1855, Allen Johns in 1858, and Michael Worth in 1856.

In 1840 there was but one house at the present site of Kampsville and that was the home of Stephen Farrow. Columbiana, on the opposite side of the river was then a hustling little town, and the main shipping point for miles around. After a few more families settled about the home of Farrow, the place was called "Farrowtown". On March 16, 1847, Stephen Farrow was given a license to run a ferry across the river and the County Commissioners referred to the place as Farrotown.

Silver Creek seemed to have been the rival of Farrowtown in the early days. A post-office was established at Silver Creek in 1863, and Capt. M. A. Kamp was the leading merchant. He kept a grocery and dry-goods store and served as the postmaster. He moved to Farrowtown in 1873, and the citizens of the town soon petitioned that the name of the town be changed to Kampsville in honor of Capt. Kamp. The name was changed as requested.

On November 22, 1887, the first election, under the village organization, was held. The following men were elected as Trustees: M. A. Kamp, J. H. Churchman, C. B. Farrow, Joseph Hayn, G. Alexander, and P. Ammatt. M. A. Kamp was chosen president of the board, and James Edwards was appointed village marshall.

In the 80's the federal and state governments started to build a series of dams in the Illinois River. The fifth and largest of the series was constructed at Kampsville in 1888. The dam was 1,000 feet long and 8 feet in height, being made of solid masonry. The lock, located on the Kampsville side of the river, was constructed 350 feet in length and 75 feet wide. The cost of the dam and the locks was estimated at $350,000.

Some of the business houses that existed before 1900 were: Mrs. B. Sutter, Joseph Hayn, Mrs. J. W. Oberjohn, J. A. Kamp, Jacob Brenn, Felix Mosler, Phillip Ammott, and Fred Reamensnider.


In the year 1834 all of the territory now included in Carlin and Crater Precincts was organized into one precinct, which was known as "Illinois Precinct”. The voting place for the precinct was the home of Jacob Crader, Sr., several miles south of the present site of Kampsville. On June 3, 1839 Carlin Precinct was formed and the John Beeman Ferry house was designated as the place where the elections were held. This precinct was probably named in honor of Thomas Carlin, who had been elected Governor of Illinois in 1838.

Probably the first settler in Carlin Precinct was James G. Tharp, who came to the county in 1829. The Commissioners Records mention the names of Isahel Newell, J. B. Newell, John Beeman, William Beeman, and Thomas Larkin as being residents of the precinct in the 30's. Other early settlers were Jesse Simmons (1838), Thomas Lumley (in the early 40's), Israel Piper (in the 40's), Francis Lynn (in the 40's), Greagory Becker (in the early 50's), John Sibley (1854), John S. Lane (1860), and Sebastan Retzer (1860).

Both John and William Beeman operated a ferry at different times. Carlin Precinct never had a large population at any time, and no large towns ever located there. A post-office had been established at Silver Creek, but when Kampsville became important, the office was moved to that place.


In 1831 a post-office was established in Belle view Precinct, at a place known as Belleview. Later a few stores were located here, as well as a mill and a blacksmith shop. No large towns or villages ever grew up in this precinct.

In the election of 1834 the following men served as judges and clerks: Wellman Dustan, H. P. Buckanan, Jacob Mozier, Samuel Dewey, and Valenetine Buckanan. Dr. Allen Jones who settled in the precinct in 1840 gives a list of the voters of the election of 1840. They were: Alexander Hemphill, William Wall, John Stark, Henry G. Hart, William Anderson, H. P. Buckanan, Daniel Puterbaugh, John Borrowman, John Martin, Michael Starnes, A. L. Mozier, Samuel Monn, Alvin Tolbert, Lewis Mars, Jr., A. Mars, Samuel Peg, Thomas and George McClelland, Jack Maloy, James Dewey, and John Stall. One of the men in the list, Alexander Hemphil, was serving as County Commissioner at the time.

Until 1834 all of the territory in the northern part of the county, that now included in Carlin, Crater, Hamburg, and Belleview Precincts, was a part of Belleview Precinct. In 1834, the part now included in Carlin and Crater was taken away from Belleview Precinct, and in 1848 Hamburg Precinct was formed from the southern part of Belleview Precinct.

Among the early settlers in Belleview Precinct were: John Borrowman, who settled at Farmers' Ridge in 1848; John Anderson in the early 40's; John Crosby, in the early 30's; Humphrey Harlow in 1843; Wesley Miller in 1843; Lewis Johnson in 1850; Levi Thomas in 1851; Abraham Goewey in 1851; John Foiles in 1851; Henry V. Foiles in 1854; John W. Long in 1856; and Andreas Wintjen in 1858.

In 1845 Dan Looper owned a hand corn mill, which was the only mill for miles around.


There are a number of towns that are shown on maps that were made before the Civil War that are not listed on the recent maps. One of those towns was Milan. In 1837 it was described as "a postoffice and town site in south Calhoun, fractional section 28, township 13S., one west. The first post-office in Point Precinct was located at Milan and the Postmaster was John Bolter, who was one of the prominent men in the southern part of the county in the early days. The post-office remained at Milan until 1849, when it was transferred to Deer Plain. Milan was located several miles below the present site of the Golden Eagle. The land in and about the old town of Milan is now owned by John Schmieder, one of the County Commissioners of Calhoun County.

Another village that was even more important than Milan, was Monterey. In 1854 a post-office was located there with J. S. Rutland serving as the postmaster. General Stores were conducted by J. S. Rutland and William Lee. C. W. Twichell ran a blacksmith shop, Stephen Effington operated a flour mill, Jefferson Crull was a furniture dealer, and a Mr. McCall was the Methodist Minister residing there. Before the post-office was established at Batchtown, the mail for the Batchtown people was taken over the dividing ridge by someone from the Montery office. After a post-office was established at Batchtown, the town began to decline and at the present time there is nothing left but the red-brick school.

Cap au Gris, the small French settlement on the Mississippi River near the present site of the West Point Ferry, in Richwoods Precinct, served as a voting place for many years. The entire southern part of the county was known as Cap au Gris Precinct until 1848, when the name was changed to Point. By 1900 the little town had disappeared and at the present time the name is applied to a point in Missouri, opposite to where Cap au Gris once stood.

Another village that probably hoped to become the leading town of the county was Gilford. It was located near the Illinois River, in fractional township 11S, two west, about six miles south of the present site of Hardin. In 1837, an account concerning the town said: "It has been laid off and is said to be well situated for business purposes." The same writer also called Guilford "the new county seat" as explained elsewhere it never served as such. Shortly before 1836 a canal was planned across the county, from Guilford to Gilead. This plan was probably abandoned because of the Panic of 1837. After the county seat was moved to Hardin, Guilford began to decline, and today there is nothing to show where this little village once stood.

Extracted 20 May 2017 by Norma Hass from History of Calhoun County, pages 18-27

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