Kingston once a thriving town

Blog Post

Kingston once a thriving town

  • By Linda Riggs Mayfield
  • 09 Jun, 2013
Kingston School, now boarded up, replaced a two-story 1854 structure and is one of the few remaining buildings in Kingston.

About 15 miles east of Quincy, a few miles past Liberty on Ill. 104, a small sign indicates a blacktop heading south to Kingston. The sign would have been unnecessary 140 years ago: Kingston was a thriving town on the road that connected Quincy to Jacksonville. Today, Kingston is an unincorporated collection of a half dozen residences south of the highway, a church, a water tower, and a vast, hilly cemetery that contains more than 830 marked graves, a reminder of the town that used to be.

In the early 19th century, veterans were awarded land grants called bounties, as rewards for their service. Congress set aside 5,000,000 acres between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers for the veterans of the War of 1812. Bounty lands lured Easterners west, and veterans who chose not to go west often sold their land, sight unseen, to the more adventurous. Beginning in 1816, people settled in the newly opened lands of the Illinois Military Tract. Some stopped briefly and moved on, but the first settlers in Kingston, in what is now the northwest corner of Beverly Township of Adams County, planned to build a city.

Thomas King, the "proprietor" of that parcel of land, had it surveyed and laid out on April 19, 1836, and named it Centerville. The town was platted with 160 lots arranged in 16 city blocks, 10 streets, and four alleys. Anticipating the grandeur King thought would come, the streets were laid out 60 feet wide, with the central street, Maine, an astounding 130 feet wide. Apparently the residents soon began calling it Kingston (King's Town). Its name as Centerville was not even known until its discovery on a deed in a government indexing project in the mid-20th century.

Kingston's early settlers established an election precinct and selected election judges: Richard Buffington, Azariah Mayfield, and George W. William. William Stevens was elected supervisor; James Sykes Sr., clerk; and James Sykes Jr., judge. Mayfield had been the first settler in the township in 1834, and lived on his farm about two miles east of the nearby village of Beverly in the Mound Prairie area. The senior Sykes had come from England to Brooklyn, New York; then two generations of his family settled near the Mayfields at Mound Prairie in 1834. Beverly Township was not officially organized until 1850, so evidently Beverly and Mound Prairie were included in the first Kingston voting precinct.

The two main "highways" for the settlers coming into western Illinois were the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, and well-used trails that connected docking points on the rivers became roads for the immigrants' oxcarts. Soon a road between Quincy on the Mississippi and Meredosia on the Illinois went through Kingston.

As many as 35 families from England settled in southeastern Adams County, and many of their graves are in Kingston Park Cemetery. Surnames still found in Adams County are those of the early English settlers: Henthorn, Hill, Holt, Mason, Morley, Sykes, and others. Several Bimson brothers came to Kingston from England and shared a house on the north side of town until they became established, then their families joined them. A legend persists that at least one brother died at sea on his way to bring his family back to Kingston. Another brother reportedly built the first mill in the community on the west bank of Grindstone Creek, the first steam-operated mill in the county.

The "mill of McVey and Bimson" at Kingston was two stories high, with the "bolter" upstairs. Two 20- by 3-foot boilers, lying side-by-side, were powered by burning 4-foot cord wood. A large mill pond was scooped out to provide the required water. In dry times, farmers were permitted to bring their livestock there to drink. Farmers brought their grain and ate their packed lunches, played cards, and pitched horseshoes while they waited for their order to be ground. One memorable day the head block on the boilers "blew," filling the building with steam and sending the four mill hands frantically racing across the field.

The traffic on the road through Kingston increased. Teamsters hauling freight stopped to spend the night, and the town became the stage route's relay station between Quincy and Perry. The drivers changed horses at Kingston. Commercial traffic required service providers: hotels, blacksmiths, barbers, and doctors for people and animals. The men who provided those services had families, who also needed goods and services. Stores opened. Traveling salesmen, known as "drummers," came and stayed in the hotels while they made local sales.

Five hotels, several blacksmith shops, several grocery and dry goods stores, a molasses mill, drug stores, and pool halls thrived. J. W. Bowman operated a hauling business, making two round trips to Quincy each week with teams of horses, one way per day. A dentist set up his practice on the second floor of the home of Hack Edgly, and Dr. John McKinley presided over a small hospital.

Dr. Walter Davison, born in the township in 1875, practiced medicine in Kingston for 58 years. Charlie Deihl was known as "doctor of livestock." The closest undertaker, Fred Frey, was several miles north at Liberty, so a supply of coffins was kept upstairs above John Buffington's blacksmith shop. Grieving residents in need could purchase one without having to travel.

William and Conrad Hofmeister emigrated from Germany to Kingston to access the abundance of white oak timber. William set up his cooper's shop to make barrels, and the family also operated one of the hotels. John Rickart's store ledger recorded William's 1854 purchase of "11 yds, calico @ 12-1/2 ¢, $1.38; 1 lb. coffee, 25¢; 5 lb. sugar, 25¢; blacking, 5¢."

As the town grew, entrepreneurs bought and sold their new businesses in rapid succession. Mr. Roth sold his store to Mr. McVey and Mr. Nations, who sold it to Mr. Terrell, who sold it to Mr. Stitler, who sold it to Mr. Chapman, who sold it to Bill and Walter Flick, who sold it to Bill Fusselman. The population of Kingston reached at least 200.

The need for social, educational, and religious institutions grew. In 1854, a two-story school was built on the southeast corner of lot where the last school, now boarded up, stands. Classes were held on the first floor, meetings of the Grand Army of the Republic and Masonic orders were held in the meeting room on the second floor, and the G.A.R. stored their guns there. Eventually a large Masonic lodge was built, reported to be second only to Quincy's in size and elegance. Baptist and Methodist churches served the town. A Christian Church was built in 1854 and sold to the Methodists in 1862, for $350, after their church burned. It is now the oldest church in continuous use in Adams County.

When Kingston became big enough to have its own post office, there was already a one with that name in Illinois; so on April 22, 1851, Kingston's was given the name Fairweather. It remained Fairweather until the post office was closed on January 31, 1907, and Kingston residents' mail was delivered from the Beverly post office.

Kingston thrived, but roads and transportation improved, and eventually there was no need to include an overnight stop when traveling from Jacksonville or Springfield to Quincy. Although a few businesses remained open until the 1960s or later, the town's population decreased steadily. Centerville had been a little-used and long-forgotten name, Fairweather only a historical postal name, and finally, most of the town of Kingston, itself, became a memory.

Linda Riggs Mayfield retired from the associate faculty of Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing. She is a researcher, writer and an editorial consultant for academic researchers and authors. Mayfield serves on the board of the Historical Society.


Bowen, Gladys Buffington. "Recollections of a Kingston Resident." Barry, IL: Barry-West Pike News. May 21, 1969.

Bower, Nellie. "Kingston of Yesteryear: A Series of Articles by Alice Jackson & Arvilla Chamberlin." Barry, IL: Barry-West Pike News. November 22, 1967.

Carlson, Theodore L. The Illinois Military Tract. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1951.

Edison, Charles. "Recollections." Barry, IL: Barry-West Pike News. August 16, 1967.

Family Quest Archives. Illinois 1870 Census Index. Bountiful, UT: Heritage Quest, 1998.

Find A Grave. "Grave Search Results for Kingston Park Cemetery." Accessed May, 2013.;

Guy, Dollie Callahan. "Recollections of Kingston." Barry, IL: Barry-West Pike News. n.d.

Jackson, Alice, & Chamberlin, Arvilla. "History of Kingston Community: A series of articles by Alice Jackson & Arvilla Chamberlin." Barry, IL: Barry-West Pike News. 1967.

Kieslar, George. Personal interview, Kingston, IL, May 23, 2013.

"Kingston Methodist Church History." Barry, IL: Barry-West Pike News. April 30, 1969.

Mayfield, Linda Riggs. Private notes. May 16, 2013.

Morley, George. "Old Mill of Kingston." Barry, IL: Barry-West Pike News. n.d. (Series appeared 1967 to 1969).

Morley, George. "Recollections of Kingston." Barry, IL: Barry-West Pike News. February 5, 1969.

Potter, Alan and Jean Kay. Private correspondence. April 10, 2002.

By Kent Hull 27 Dec, 2020

Adams County was home to at least two historians of national eminence. One was Allan Nevins of Columbia University. Nevins was a Camp Point native who twice won the Pulitzer Prize and wrote a multi-volume history of the Civil War and its prologue. The other was Marshall Smelser, a graduate of Quincy high school and Quincy College. He earned his PhD at Harvard under the direction of Samuel Eliot Morison, a Pulitzer Prize historian of maritime and American history. Smelser taught at the University of Notre Dame for almost three decades.

Smelser belonged to the Quincy family known for its photography studio. His parents, Albert and Gladys Alma Smelser, established their business in 1923 in the 600 block of Hampshire street where, The Herald Whig reported on April 4, 1954, it was still operated by his brother, Howard. Marshall married Anna Padberg of Quincy and served as an assistant field director for the Red Cross during World War II. By 1947, the Herald Whig reported on September 21, he and Anna had moved to South Bend, Indiana, with their daughter Elizabeth, to begin his teaching career at Notre Dame.

His academic specialty was the American Revolution and the early decades of the republic. He was a graceful writer. In 1959 he published a study of the American Navy entitled The Congress Founds the Navy 1787-1798 . In acknowledging the help of other scholars, he wrote, “I am profoundly grateful to this entire group. Some are officers by Act of Congress. Others are scholars by acts of university corporations. All are ladies and gentlemen by Act of God.”

Historians Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris, editors of the prestigious New American Nation series for college students, invited Smelser to write a volume, The Democratic Republic, 1801—1815 , published in 1968. The Herald Whig informed its readers of the publication in a January 4, 1969 story by Sarah Lasher headlined, “Former Quincyan Accents History”. She wrote that Smelser had “achieved the nonfiction ideal: a readable chronicle told with the empathy of a fiction writer.” She praised the book because it “covers the crucial years of the young republic…with understanding and frankness, admitting the faults of such patriotic figures as” Jefferson, Madison and John Marshall “but showing them in proportion to their greatness.”

Smelser had a realistic view of the Founders, one almost prescient for our present time. He wrote in 1958, “The years of the administrations of Presidents Washington and Adams are usually regarded by the educated layman…as years in which public life was marked by statesmanlike decorum and a reliance on logic. …While not wholly inaccurate, such a conception neglects to notice that the political activity of the Federalist period was strongly influenced by the passions of hate, anger and fear.”

In 1954 he had studied George Washington, “the most venerated American of that generation, if not of all generations”, and the president’s support of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Washington, during the summer of 1796, “thought he was being flogged beyond endurance” by a hostile press and political opponents. Despite the infringement by these laws on constitutional rights, Washington “explicitly approved and actively defended them.”

Smelser pursued interests beyond the 18th and 19th century when he undertook a different project: a biography of Babe Ruth, The Life that Ruth Built . The title alluded to the original Yankee Stadium, often called “the house that Ruth built”. For this book, Smelser did not search for documents written a century and a half before. Instead he corresponded with Ruth’s surviving contemporaries, such as the Yankee catcher, Bill Dickey.

Some of that correspondence Smelser donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame, which has since digitalized it online. In a March 3, 1972 letter to Dickey, Smelser said he had “to confess that I grew up in central Illinois and there your teams had to be either the Cubs or Cardinals” in the National League or the White Sox or Browns in the American League.  He added, “I never was a Yankee fan until I began getting back your answers. I am one now. I speak of the team.”

He told Dickey that, “Approximately half of the 42 surviving Yankees of the seasons of the 1920-34 have answered my inquiry. This is a sensationally high proportion for an unsolicited questionnaire.” Among his respondents, he said there “was general agreement” that a pitcher facing Ruth should “keep the ball up and throw breaking stuff and changes—never a fast ball over the plate”.

One former player who declined to participate was Leo Durocher. After retirement in 1937, and hoping to become a manager, Ruth had joined the Dodgers as first base coach in 1938. In that job he clashed with Durocher, then team captain, who instead became the manager. Ruth left the Dodgers and quit professional baseball entirely. Also declining was the former Yankee pitcher, Waite Hoyt, who told Smelser that he was writing his own book about Ruth.

Marshall Smelser died in 1978 at the age of 65. He had served as chair of the history department at Notre Dame, enjoying great national respect among his professional colleagues and former students. Anna Smelser served one term in the Indiana state house of representatives, 1953—1955, and died in 1998. Their daughter, Elizabeth, became a nurse at the Mayo Clinic.


“Deaths.” Quincy Herald Whig , April 4, 1954, p. 17.

Dickey, William M., response communication to Marshall Smelser, circa 1972 (Marshall Smelser Collection, National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY).

Lasher, Sarah. “Former Quincyian Accents History.” Quincy Herald Whig , January 4, 1969, B4.

“Marshall Smelser is Author of New Book.” Quincy Herald Whig , September 17, 1968, B4.

“Marshall Smelsers to Move in Fall to South Bend, Ind.” Quincy Herald Whig , June 17, 1947, 4.

Smelser, Marshall. The Congress Founds a Navy 1787-1798. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press , 1959.

Smelser, Marshall. The Democratic Republic, 1801-1815. New York: Harper & Row , 1968.

Smelser, Marshall, “The Federalist Period as an Age of Passion”, American Quarterly , (Winter, 1958), pp. 391-419.

Smelser, Marshall, “George Washington and the Alien and Sedition Acts”, The American  Historical Review , (Jan., 1954), pp. 322- 334.

Smelser, Marshall, letter to William M. Dickey, March 3, 1972 (Marshall Smelser Collection, National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY). 1972-march-03.

Smelser, Marshall. The Life that Ruth Built. New York: Quadrangle/New York Times Books, 1975, (reprinted 1993).


By Arlis Dittmer 20 Dec, 2020

In 1912, Quincyans were encouraged to shop at the A. Doerr Department Store at Sixth and Maine where according to an ad, customers could “buy where holiday stocks are complete; holiday gift buying easiest; holiday goods handiest to see; where the Christmas spirit of good cheer and helpfulness abounds from basement to roof.”

In contrast to today where holiday shopping hours are longer, the 1912 Quincy merchants agreed to limit evening hours to the last five nights before Christmas. This was a change from the usual evening hours as according to the Daily Herald, the merchants wanted “to encourage Christmas shopping by daylight, when customers may more easily distinguish colors and quality, and to allow clerks the entire night in which to rest for the rush and crush of the following day.” The article later states, “The merchants seem united in the belief that greater satisfaction and much better service will result and all of them favor adhering to the new plan at Christmas time every year.”

The danger of fire was ever-present. Although no longer on trees, candles were used in greenery displays and decorations in the homes, in churches, and in stores. The illustration with this article shows a child holding a lit candle. Fireproof decorations were not widely used and cotton was used to simulate snow. The 1912 Daily Herald report the Illinois Fire Marshal said, “Special watchmen … should be detailed to watch places where … displays are installed, not only to prevent spread of fire, but to avoid panics, which are almost sure to result from any fire starting where …. people are gathered together.”

An example of the dangers of candles was a children’s game called the Christmas Candle. The Daily Journal described it as a funny game. One child would hold a lit candle, the other blindfolded, twirled around and then expected to blow out the candle. “… His attempts will be very funny indeed as he puffs out his cheeks and blows—probably in the wrong direction—and they will cause much merriment among the other children.” Today the candle game isn’t played but according to an article in the December 8, 2020 Herald Whig the Illinois State Fire Marshal said, “more than one-third of home fires are started by candles.”

In 1916, the Daily Herald printed warnings about the congestion of mail and the need to ship early. They suggested packages mailed early should have “Don’t open until Christmas stickers.” The Daily Whig explained the post office schedule that year as Christmas was on Monday. The law stated that carriers could not work on Sunday but the clerks could sort the mail and have it ready for the carriers to deliver on Christmas day. Extra carriers would work and each one would have horse and wagon both on Saturday and on Monday to deliver “the whole great mass of Christmas mail.”

A tradition still in use today is the Christmas list. The December 16, 1916 Daily Whig by Ruth Cameron said, “If we are going to have an exchange why not have it an intelligent and efficient one? And that is what the list tends to do.” Miss Cameron said without a list we would be like a fairy godmother granting wishes. She complained about those who won’t make a list or say they don’t want anything as they will be the most critical of their gifts after the holiday.

Holiday entertainments were held at local theaters. Cantatas with narration, songs and instruments were given at school programs and churches just as they are now. Christmas hymns and selected music was listed in the paper for church services. Some churches preferred to have their special music at Sunday worship while others had special music on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day.

The December 24, 1916 Daily Whig used the term “bundled” which is seldom used today.  “Bundled humanity has been descending on the Burlington and Wabash passenger stations all week.” The article talks about people carrying more bundles than usual on crowded sidewalks seemingly happy with the notion that it is better to give than receive. The Daily Whig said, “We are sorry that Christmas and Bundle time ends so soon.”

Traditional Christmas caroling was done in 1920.That year it was the Young Women’s Christian Association and school children who caroled on Christmas Eve. If a home was lighted, the group would stop and sing one song. Different groups would wind their way through the downtown and residential districts. The Daily Herald suggested, “If you are in tune with the Christmas Spirit, and would hear one of the old songs before your home on Christmas eve, put a light in your window and the carolers will visit you.”

At Blessing Hospital the nurses sang carols and a special meal was prepared for the patients. At the jail, the prisoners had roast goose and were allowed to receive presents from their friends and relatives.       

“Christmas is above all a season of joy and song,” said the 1920 Daily Herald.  But asks later in the same column, “Have you done anything to give a real Christmas for the sick and wounded soldiers in the hospitals throughout this state?” The newspaper had established a Christmas fund and was receiving checks from individuals and organizations to provide Christmas cheer to the men and women who served in World War I and who were currently recuperating from wounds and illness in 72 Illinois hospitals. Also listed in the paper were the businesses who gave gifts and bonuses to their employees.

Continuing the theme of giving, the newspaper mentioned that Associated Charities had gathered toys for nearly 300 children in Quincy and 200 baskets of food for families. The Salvation Army was making food baskets to be distributed on Christmas morning and was planning an entertainment for children on New Year’s Eve.

Communities today continue to spread Christmas cheer and the Christmas spirit of giving lives on.


Cameron, Ruth. “The Christmas List.” Quincy Daily Whig , December 16, 1916, 7.

“Carriers Will Have Big Job Christmas.” Quincy Daily Whig , December 7, 1916, 3.

“The Christmas Candle.” Quincy Daily Journal , December 23, 1912, 11.

“Christmas Cantata at Dewey School by Immanuel Children.” Quincy Daily Herald , December 24, 1920, 2.

“Christmas Carols Sung Throughout City on Christmas Eve.” Quincy Daily Herald , December 24, 1920, 2.

“Christmas Cheer for Everyone.” Quincy Daily Herald , December 23, 1920, 1 & 13.

“Christmas is Bundle Time.” Quincy Daily Whig , December 24, 1916, 6.

“Christmas Music In The Churches.” Quincy Daily Journal , December 21, 1912, 11.

“A Christmas Warning.” Quincy Daily Herald , December 21, 1912, 6.

 “A Few Hints About Christmas Shipping.” Quincy Daily Herald , December 8, 1916, 8.

“Fire Marshall Warns of Fire Risk Posed by Holiday Decorations. Herald-Whig, December 8, 2020, 3A.

Germann, Phil, “Christmas in Quincy 100 Years Ago.” Quincy Herald Whig , December 9, 2012.

“Hear Music to Realize Christmas is Here.” Quincy Daily Herald , December 18, 1920, 6.

“Santa Claus at Doerr’s –Holiday Stocks Opened.” Quincy Daily Whig , December 6, 1912, 6.

“To Be Open Five Nights.” Quincy Daily Herald , December 14, 1912, 3.

By Reg Ankrom 13 Dec, 2020

This space last week detailed the way in which the death of an ancestor of the late Quincy physician, Alcee Jumonville III, caused the French and Indian War. That event, the murder by Major George Washington’s British troops of French Ensign Joseph de Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville in the Upper Ohio Valley ignited an even more important occurrence in American history, the American Revolution. Quincy is directly connected to that history, as well.

            About halfway down the far right column of signatures on the Declaration of Independence is the shaky penmanship of Stephen Hopkins, the former ten-term governor of Rhode Island. At 69 years of age, Hopkins was the second oldest of the 56 men—Benjamin Franklin at 81 was oldest—who were signing their death warrants in declaring independence from Great Britain. Hopkins was a direct ancestor of the late David Sanders of Quincy, who for 33 years taught biology, microbiology, and zoology in Quincy schools.

Hopkins’s signature is easily recognizable. He suffered from palsy. In affixing his signature, he tried to control his quivering right hand with his left. Historians write that as he shakily signed the document, he said, “My hand trembles, but my heart is steady.” Here’s the Hopkins and Sanders story:

            After the murder of 35-year-old French Ensign Jumonville near today’s Pittsburgh on May 27, 1754, the French and British fought seven years for control of the American continent. Great Britain won the war, secured its American colony’s borders, and acquired significant French territory in Canada and the Floridas. But the war left Britain heavily in debt, and British and Dutch bankers who financed the war were demanding repayment.

            It was the way Britain proposed to pay down the debt that brought one of the first and one of the strongest protests in 1764 by Stephen Hopkins, governor of the British Rhode Island colony. The late David Sanders’s grandmother was born a Hopkins. It meant that Sanders, who died on November 29, 2017, also was related to Benedict Arnold, the Revolutionary War officer who rose to the rank of major general before defecting to the British in 1780. Arnold was Stephen Hopkins’s cousin.

            Britain’s King George II believed that since the war saved American colonists from the French, the colonists should be responsible for the debt. The British Parliament in 1765 passed a Stamp Tax, the first direct tax on the colonists, which was assessed on every document printed or used in America. In addition, Britain began to post regular army units in America and required the colonists to pay for quartering them. Parliament next imposed duties on china, glass, lead, paint, sugar, and molasses imported from Britain. Most antagonizing was the Tea Act of 1773, which was designed not to raise revenue but to bail out the failing British East India Company. The act gave the company monopoly status for importing and selling tea in the colonies.

            Hopkins was among the first firebrands for independence in the colonies. With his brother Esek, he had built and outfitted ships for American trade at Atlantic ports. The British required that goods be shipped only on British ships, which infuriated Hopkins. In 1744 he was elected to the Rhode Island General Assembly, served as an associate justice of the state supreme court from 1747 to 1749, and became chief justice in 1751.

            In 1754 Hopkins attended a conference at Albany in 1754 at which Benjamin Franklin proposed an alliance of the colonies, which Hopkins supported. Franklin’s proposal failed, but the conference cemented a lifelong friendship of the two men called radicals in their day.

            In 1764, Hopkins wrote a 25-page pamphlet, “The Rights of the Colonies Examined,” widely circulated in American and Great Britain, which condemned British taxation without representation. His colleagues knew him as a man fearless against the British where liberty was threatened. In an incendiary speech in 1774 to the First Continental Congress that colonial patriot Paul Revere recorded, Hopkins said, "Powder and ball will decide this question. The gun and bayonet alone will finish the contest in which we are engaged, and any of you who cannot bring your minds to this mode of adjusting the question had better retire in time."

            Dave Sanders was in the line of ancestry whose generations from the time of Stephen Hopkins had been involved in American wars from the Revolution to World War II. Sanders and his brothers William and James, a bronze star winner, were World War II veterans. Their Uncle George Day served in World War I, and their father David fought in Cuba, one of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, during the Spanish-American War. Grandfather William V. Sanders was a Union Army lieutenant in the Civil War, and six great uncles were imprisoned at Andersonville during that test of national endurance. Great Uncle David Hopkins fought at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend under General Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. David Hopkins’s father Ephraim, cousin of Stephen Hopkins, had been a minuteman in Boston in the war Stephen Hopkins helped to launch.

Sanders left high school before he finished his final semester in 1944 to join the Marine Corps. His high school awarded him the half-credit in American history he needed to graduate. He trained at San Diego and Ft. Pendleton and deployed as an electronic communications expert operating equipment that scrambled and decoded messages in his assignments in the Pacific. He was with the Sixth Marine Division when it reclaimed Okinawa.

            When the Japanese sought peace in the Pacific after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Sanders was aboard the battleship U.S.S. Missouri where he witnessed  Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and Supreme Allied Commander General Douglas MacArthur sign the treaty that ended the war in the Pacific and World War II. Sanders was discharged from the Marines in May 1946. Full military honors were conducted at his gravesite at Sunset Cemetery at the Illinois Veterans Home.


“David Sanders, 1926-2017,” Herald-Whig ,

David Sanders, interview by Reg Ankrom, June 2, 2015.

Foster, William E. Stephen Hopkins: A Rhode Island Statesman. (Providence: Sidney S. Rider, 1884), 207.

Goodrich, Charles Augustus. Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. (Murrieta, California: R.W. Classic Books, 2018), 166.

Hopkins, Stephen. “The Rights of Colonies Examined.” Booklet. Providence, Rhode Island, 1764.

Millar, John F. Stephen Hopkins, Architect of American Independence, 1707-1785 . (Newport, Rhode Island: Journal of the Newport Historical Society, Winer 1980), 31.

Sanderson, John. Sanderson’s Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence.  Robert T. Conrad, ed. (Philadelphia: Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., 1874) 200.

“Stephen Hopkins,” Society for the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence,

Stewart, Thomas C. “A shaky hand but steady heart.” Washington Times, July 3, 2017.


By Reg Ankrom 06 Dec, 2020

This is the tenth year that volunteer authors for the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County have written history columns for the op-ed page of the Herald-Whig’s Sunday newspaper. And if there is one thing that those more than 500 columns have demonstrated, it is that Quincy and Adams County have been connected to some of the nation’s most important historical events.  This is the first of two cases in point.

Fifty-nine years ago, Dr. Alcee Joseph Jumonville III and wife Betty brought their young family with them to Quincy from Louisiana after he had earned his doctorate in medicine from Louisiana State University. Jumonville specialized in internal medicine and practiced for 42 years as a physician at Quincy Clinic. In 1994 he founded the Community Outreach Clinic at Blessing Hospital. He and Betty also were active in American Red Cross disaster services. Dr. Jumonville’s last disaster relief  service assignment was in January 2002 when he assisted in providing health services after 9/11 in New York City. Dr. Alcee Jumonville III died on October 24, 2002, and is buried in Quincy’s Calvary Cemetery.

The Jumonvilles five children, Alcee Joseph IV, Louis Joseph, James Earl, Lucie Marie and Andrew Crouchet, who is a highly regarded artist.  He created the bronze statue, Convergence of Purpose, which depicts Abraham Lincoln with McLean County friends Jesse Fell, once a fruit farmer near Payson, and Judge David Davis.

The Jumonvilles’ legacy in history pre-dates the American Revolution. In fact, the death of a direct ancestor of the Jumonvilles was its proximate cause. Here is the story:

On July 1, 1852, the French Marquis Duquesne, arrived in Quebec as the French governor general of New France, French-claimed territory that included today’s Ohio, western Pennsylvania, northwestern West Virginia, and southeastern Indiana. The British, too, claimed much of the same region, also known as the Ohio Valley. Duquesne moved quickly to establish the French claim, ordering the construction of four forts in the Upper Ohio Valley, today’s Pennsylvania. The insurgency was not only a diplomatic insult to the British. It was a personal problem for the Virginia colony’s Lt. Gov. Robert Dinwiddie and for 21-year-old British Major George Washington. Along with Washington’s older brother Lawrence, they had invested in the Ohio Company, to which the British King had granted territory there.

In the summer of 1753, Dinwiddie ordered Major Washington to assemble a company of militiamen and proceed to the Upper Ohio Valley to evict the French. Washington recruited 159 Virginia militiamen, most of them farmers untrained in military arts and sciences, to carry out Dinwiddie’s order. If the French refused, the British volunteers were to force their evacuation. Dinwiddie’s order gave Washington the authority to kill any French inhabitant who refused to leave.

Along the way, Washington picked up a band of Ohio Indians led by Iroquois chief Tanaghrisson. The British doubted his tribal authority and thus called him “Half King.” On May 27, 1754, Indian scouts reported that a French force of 50 men was hunting the British volunteers. Washington dispatched half his troops to seek out the French contingent. On the following morning, leaving other troops at an encampment, Washington and 40 volunteers spread out in a U formation above a hollow where the Indians had discovered the French. Half King’s warriors were positioned at the opening of the hollow.

After a few days of rain, drizzle greeted the French soldiers as they emerged from bark-covered wigwams that had sheltered them. In his diary, Washington reported that the French discovered his force and fired first, “whereupon I ordered my company to fire.” The fight lasted 15 minutes. Washington reported one of his men killed and three wounded. On the French side, ten had been killed and three wounded.

Among the French wounded was the 35-year-old French commander, Ensign Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville, who had been hit by a Virginian’s musket ball. This direct  ancestor of the Quincy Jumonville family was from a large military family that descended from French nobility. Ensign Jumonville was no stranger to battlefields. At the age of 15, he had served under his father’s command at Baie des Puants (Green Bay), and he had clashed with the British almost constantly ever since. Now, his fight was with the British Virginia colony’s officer, George Washington.

Through an interpreter, the wounded Jumonville tried to explain that he and his troops had been sent by the commander of Fort Duquesne to request the peaceful withdrawal of the British from the lands of the King of France. The interpreter did not complete Jumonville’s remarks. The Half King rushed from the hollow’s opening and interceded.

“Thou are not yet dead, my father,” the Indian said. He brought down his tomahawk again and again on Jumonville’s head. The assault split the French officer’s skull. Half King reached into the splayed skull and pulled out the gray mass of Jumonville’s brain and squeezed it between his fingers as if squeezing out the essence of the French ensign itself. The Half King’s warriors then fell to scalping the other dead and wounded French marines.

Major Washington was credited—and blamed—for what followed.  Horace Walpole, an   eighteenth century British commentator, wrote “The volley fired by a young Virginian in the backwoods of America set the world on fire.”

The murder of Ensign Jumonville ignited the French and Indian War, a conflict that lasted seven years. The cost of aid to its American colony during this war emptied the pockets of the British crown, which was also occupied by its broader fight with France in Europe. This financial condition greatly weakened Britain, which now required its American colonists to help by paying more taxes.

The young ancestor of the Quincy Jumonville family had not started just one war. The war’s effects would cause the British American colony’s revolt.

The next article in this series will be about a Quincy family ancestor who helped start the American Revolution.


Anderson, Fred. (2005). The War that Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian  War. New York: Penguin Books, 46.

Arthur, Stanley Clisby. (1971) Old Families of Louisiana.   Baton Rouge: Claitor’s Publishing, 225.

Clary, David. (2011). George Washington’s First War. New York: Simon and Schuster, 85.

Dinwiddie, Robert. Retrieved from

“Dr. Alcee J. ‘A.J.’ Jumonville, October 24, 2002.” Retrieved from

“Fort Necessity, National Battlefield.” National Park Service, Retrieved from

Freeman, Douglas Southall. (1948). George Washington: A Biography, Young Washington . Volume 1. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 267-268.

Stark, Peter. (2018). Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America’s Founding  Father. New York: Harper Collins, 41.



By Arlis Dittmer 29 Nov, 2020

The holiday of Thanksgiving has its origins in European, particularly English harvest festivals. In the United States we credit the Pilgrims of Plymouth Massachusetts for the first Thanksgiving as they brought their traditions of fasting days and thanksgiving days with them. At that time, Thanksgiving was a series of events and religious services. As President, George Washington proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving. The states were free to celebrate thanksgiving on whatever day they chose. It wasn’t until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln set the date as the last Thursday in November that there was a unified holiday.

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November because retailers convinced President Franklin Roosevelt to move the holiday in 1939. The country was still in a depression and retail sales needed a boost by having more shopping days until Christmas. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with political opposition. The fourth Thursday didn’t become the official holiday until a Congressional Resolution in 1941.

There are a few mentions of Thanksgiving in the early Quincy newspapers. Sometimes poems were published mentioning harvest foods, commentaries about farmers getting the turkey, and stories of turkeys being cared for by families, usually reprinted from eastern newspapers. One story republished from Birmingham, Connecticut in the Quincy Whig in December 1856, told about a woman with a long life and a large family saying, “We doubt if there is another case in this country where a venerable mother can call 230 of her lineal pedigree around her thanksgiving dinner table.”

Because there was no unified date in the 19th century, states were joining together and proclaiming a national thanksgiving on the same Thursday in November. The December 3, 1850 Quincy Whig wrote in an article titled Unique to the Last, “South Carolina will observe Sunday, Oct. 24th as its day of Thanksgiving. What on earth can a State be thankful for that is not thankful for the blessing of the Union?”

Even though governors of various states were making proclamations about a day of “thanksgiving and prayer,” few businesses were closed and churches were not open as the day was a Thursday. In one letter to the Quincy Daily Whig in 1859 an anonymous writer named “One of Many,” wrote that as a New Englander he was used to a proper Thanksgiving with businesses closed and churches open but was dismayed that was not the case in Quincy. He complained that only one church was open for a “union service” and that the clergy were indolent. A rebuttal was published that same day and said, “… you have seen fit to publish an exceedingly bitter and cowardly attach upon the motives and character of Protestant clergymen of this city.” At about the same time, the Bank of Quincy announced it would not be open on Thanksgiving.

With Lincoln’s proclamation of October 3, 1863 establishing Thanksgiving he was giving thanks that, “…peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed and that harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the great theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.” He goes on to write, “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States …. To observe and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day of thanksgiving and prayer….”

Dispatches sent to the Quincy newspapers during December 1864, would mention Thanksgiving Day feasts for the various armies, one saying, “Our soldiers having been fed on turkey on Thanksgiving Day, it is supposed will now be better able to ‘gobble’ up the enemy.” While another dispatch said, “Our soldiers we fed on turkeys, mince pies and all Thanksgiving luxuries, sent to them at private expense, at a greater cost than Great Britain would pay for the whole rations of her standing army in several months.”

After the war, in the later part of the nineteenth century, Thanksgiving gained importance as a holiday. Each year the President and the Governor would issue proclamations. Governor John M. Palmer’s proclamation in 1872 said in part, “ [I] invite all the people of the state of Illinois and all strangers in their midst, to set apart Thursday, the Twenty-eight day of November A. D. 1872 as the holy day of giving thanks to the Father of all for the mercies He has bestowed upon us.”

Churches held early morning services; businesses were closed although restaurants were open and advertised their lunches or dinners. In 1874, The Daily Herald wrote a small article about Ed Lehman’s restaurant at Fourth and Hampshire saying, “Right here you could find all the delicacies of the season, consisting in part of roast turkey, cranberries, celery, oysters, fine cake and in fact everything nice. Ed is an old hand at the business….” Two days after Thanksgiving in 1877, the Quincy Daily Herald had four Thanksgiving notices in their “Items in Brief” column. First they said the weather was disagreeable, then there were not as many turkeys that year, then Mr. Hamilton gave a dinner at his residence on Hampshire, and finally, “The Tremont served a grand Thanksgiving dinner Thursday. The dining room was crowded with strangers and citizens.”

By 1881, Illinois had six legal holidays. New Year’s Day began the year, followed by Washington’s Birthday, Decoration Day, which was May 30, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Quincy Daily Herald ran an amusing editorial in 1882 which started with “Gentle reader, this is Thanksgiving day. …The turkey we ate last Thanksgiving day must have been two or three thousand years old. We remember it well. … Our Thanksgiving turkey this year will be a stuffed rabbit. … National banks and some stores close on Thanksgiving day. Some newspaper offices close on Thanksgiving day also, but the Herald office doesn’t. It is a cold day when the Herald office closes.”


“By Telegraph.” Quincy Whig, October 10, 1863, 1.

“Dangers of Acids and Alcohols.” Quincy Whig, December 6, 1856, 1. Editors. “Thanksgiving 2020.” Last Modified November 20, 2020.

“Items in Brief.” Quincy Daily Herald , December 1, 1877, 1.

“Miscellaneous Items.” Quincy Whig , December 10, 1864, 1.

“Miscellaneous Items.” Quincy Whig , December 24, 1864, 1.

 “News and Notions.” Quincy Daily Herald , December 20, 1881, 1.

“Origin of Thanksgiving.” Quincy Daily Whig , December 4, 1865, 1.

“Saturday, January 1.” Quincy Daily Whig , January 1, 1859, 1.

“Thanksgiving: Proclamation by the Governor.”  Quincy Daily Whig , November 22, 1874, 1.

“Thanksgiving Day.” Quincy Daily Herald , November 30, 1882, 1.

“Thanksgiving Lunch.” Quincy Daily Herald , November 28, 1874, 1.

“Unique to The Last.” Quincy Whig , December 3, 1850, 1.


By Linda Mayfield 22 Nov, 2020

During the approximately 120 years between the organization of Adams County in 1825 and the consolidation of small school districts in Adams County in the 1940s, numerous local schools existed all over the county. Some had unimaginative names such as Brick School (both Mendon and Richfield) and Center School (Camp Point, Coatsburg, Marblehead, Mendon, and east of Quincy). Others evoked the geographic or natural features of the area, such as Elm Grove (Mendon and Augusta), Elmwood (Liberty), Fall Creek (Marblehead), Maple Grove (Columbus), and Oak Forest (Tioga).

One name is particularly enigmatic: Hazel Dell. Hazel Dell School was in Concord Township in eastern Adams County. A Google search for the meaning of the name stated: “We couldn’t find any results for your search.” But there are communities, churches, and schools named Hazel Dell in Sessler, Illinois; Crescent, Iowa; Vancouver, Washington; Carmel, Indiana; Noblesville, Indiana; Springfield, Illinois; Pottawatomie and Grady Counties in Oklahoma; and Cleveland, Ohio. What does Hazel Dell mean?

There were only clues, not explanations. Hazel Dell, WA, was reportedly named by first settler Sarah Anderson “after a stand of filberts on their land.”  Merriam-Webster says a filbert is “a cultivated hazel tree that bears edible oval nuts.” Google Dictionary says hazel is a shrub or tree in the birch family and a dell is a small valley, “usually among trees.” Did early settlers in many places in the US, including Adams County, Illinois, find stands of birch or hazel nut trees and name their areas, churches, and schools Hazel Dell? No one seems to know.

A map of the locations of the almost 150 country schools that once existed in Adams County shows that in some areas there were vast spaces without schools, but in others, they were built just two or three miles apart with fields and forests, ravines and creeks between them: schools had to be within walking distance of the homes of the children who attended them. At first, schools were not built where there was road access, although roads sometimes followed, and until roads and bridges were eventually built, many of the children in eastern Adams County and western Brown County had to navigate rough terrain and cross long and winding, rising and falling creeks to get to school.

Bear Creek near Ursa and McKee Creek in the eastern townships of Adams County and western Brown County were particularly prone to flooding. A place in which the creek could be crossed on foot when the water was low was called a ford. A covered bridge was built over Bear Creek in 1851 but burned in 1923. South Fork Bridge was built over the South Fork of Bear Creek in 1880. The Wilson Bridge was built over Bear Creek on present 1050th Ave. in 1922.

McKee Creek and its tributaries drained several townships. The Buskirk Ford Bridge was built over McKee Creek about 5 miles west of Kellerville in 1885 and the one in the Siloam Valley followed. No bridge crossed McKee Creek north of the Ferguson Valley in Brown County’s Buckhorn Township, and when the creek rose there; many children there simply couldn’t get to Reddick School.

After the Civil War, at least five mineral springs had been discovered in the long valley that lay across the border between McKee Township in Adams County and Buckhorn Township in Brown County, and was named Siloam. With the construction of the Forest Hotel and a “Bath House” for soaking in hot mineral spring water in the 1880s, the springs had been developed into a noted tourist destination, drawing guests from the US and Europe. The community that grew up around it included homes, stores, a livery stable, a post office, the bridge over McKee Creek, and on a hillside that is now submerged under Crabapple Lake in Siloam Springs State Park, about two miles southwest of the village, Happy Hollow School.

But all the Siloam children did not attend Happy Hollow School. Outside the valley, fields, forests, and farms extended for miles in every direction. Because of the oddity of lying across a county line and having both a town and dozens of farms in the Siloam area, the Siloam children may have been friends and relatives, but they attended a number of different schools in two counties.

Two of the one-room schools were almost due north of the valley, about two miles apart, between Siloam and the community of Clayton, which had the railroad station that served Siloam. Hazel Dell School was on what is now N. 1700th Ave. and Pea Green School was near what is now N. 1500th Ave., closer to Siloam. McKee Creek separated many other areas from each other in McKee, Concord and Buckhorn Townships, but it did not separate Hazel Dell from Pea Green or from Siloam.

In the mid-1930s, the teacher at Hazel Dell was Miss Ruth Darnell. The teacher at Pea Green was Mrs. Geneva Peacock Stevens. Mrs. Stevens had been orphaned as an infant and reared on a farm just south of the Siloam Valley by her uncle and aunt, Marcellus and Mary Peacock Mayfield.

One April Fool’s Day Miss Darnell told the children to stay outside and play because she felt ill. The children did stay outside, but they didn’t exactly play. The entire student body walked about two miles south to the Pea Green School. Mrs. Stevens was, of course, suspicious, and asked them if their teacher knew where they were. They assured her that she did. (April Fools!) So instead of adding the enrollment of Hazel Dell School to her own, Mrs. Stevens sent her children outside to play, as well, and the students of the two country schools had a ball game.

In 1949, Hazel Dell School was sold at auction for $560. By 1979 it had been painted barn red, the country road that passed it was improved enough to be passable in dry weather, and although children and their teachers were no longer there, it became something of a tourist attraction.


Adams Count IL Historical Schools.,class,school,scfips,17001.cfm

Dell. Google Dictionary.

Filbert. Google Dictionary.

Hazel. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

Hazel Dell. Wikipedia.

Hazel Dell, Washington. Toponymy and history. Wikipedia.,_Washington

History of Brown Count, Illinois: 1880-1970 (1972). Brown County Board of the Schuyler Brown Historical and Genealogical Society.

McKee Creek. Google Maps.

McKee Creek Bridge. Historic and Notable Bridges of the U.S.

Scenes from the Past (June 7, 1979). Clayton Enterprise.



By Kent Hull 15 Nov, 2020

On October 15, 1864, the Quincy Daily Whig informed readers that, “Washington dispatches of the 13th have just reached us announcing the death of” Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the United States, at age 87. Election Day was November 8, and President Abraham Lincoln was standing for reelection. Adams County, with the nation, awaited news of what action, if any, he would take to nominate Taney’s successor.

Taney, appointed chief justice by President Andrew Jackson, had served on the Court since 1836. Readers probably associated him most closely with his majority opinion in the Dred Scott   case of 1857, a decision denounced by the Whig. Taney had articulated two controversial holdings: first, the very offensive statement that a slave could never be recognized as a citizen entitled to petition a federal court for his freedom and, second, that Congress lacked the constitutional authority to prohibit slavery in territories not yet admitted as states (such as Kansas and Nebraska).

On March 31, 1857 the Quincy Daily Whig , commenting on the decision, had condemned the “slavery oligarchy” which “has its hand now upon the Government from the highest to its lowest official. All men do its behest.” When Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas debated in Quincy on October 13, 1858, Lincoln had expressed his party’s criticism of the decision: “We do not propose to be bound by it as a political rule in that way, because we think it lays the foundation not merely of enlarging and spreading out what we consider an evil, but it lays the foundation for spreading that evil into the States themselves. We propose so resisting it as to have it reversed if we can, and a new judicial rule established upon this subject.”

Taney and Lincoln met on March 4, 1861 as the chief justice administered the constitutional oath to the new president. Certainly Taney knew that Lincoln was referring to the Dred Scott case when the president said in his Inaugural Address that the “candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.”

In short, Lincoln told Taney and all those present, the Court’s decision had expropriated legislative/executive powers to establish public policy, which the Constitution had invested exclusively in Congress and the Presidency.

Within weeks Lincoln and Taney clashed. Opponents of Lincoln in Maryland were impeding movement of Union troops by blowing up railroad bridges. Lincoln suspended the constitutional right to a writ of habeas corpus and authorized Army commanders to arrest and imprison saboteurs. The lawyers for one detainee, John Merryman, in a questionable tactic, applied directly to Taney in Washington, requesting him to order that the military justify its confinement of their client.

On May 27, 1861, the Quincy Daily Whig reported that, “John Merryman, a wealthy and respectable citizen of Baltimore County, was arrested last night by Government officers, charged with burning the bridges on the North Central Road. He was taken to Fort McHenry. It is understood he acted by authority of the Mayor and police commissioner.”

Taney conducted a hearing in Baltimore, then, acting without the other Supreme Court justices, eventually ordered the Army to bring Merryman to a court hearing. Lincoln ignored the order, and the military continued to hold Merryman for about six weeks. A civilian grand jury indicted him for treason, but he posted bail and Taney refused to set his criminal case for trial. Merryman suffered no further legal consequences.

With Taney’s death, Lincoln had an extraordinary opportunity. By April, 1863 he had appointed Noah Swayne, Samuel Miller, David Davis of Bloomington Illinois, and Stephen Field to the Court. Taney’s vacant position allowed Lincoln not only to appoint a fifth jurist (and the last needed to assure a Lincoln majority on the nine-member bench), but also to name a new chief justice whose authority could change the direction of a tribunal dominated by almost thirty years of appointees chosen by Democratic presidents. As a former Whig and the first Republican president, Lincoln surely understood the political significance of this moment.

Lincoln, however, was more than a masterful politician. In his Illinois legal practice, he had been one of the best constitutional lawyers in the United States. Perhaps, like the Quincy Daily Whig , he recognized some merit in Taney’s earlier work. When illness threatened Taney’s life in 1855, the paper had republished a New York dispatch saying, “Under the most favorable circumstances, in the nature of things, that his connection with the Supreme Court cannot be very prolonged; but come when the separation may, it will be attended with deep regret by the public, and by a sense of serious loss to the highest tribunal know to our laws.”

Lincoln refrained from naming Taney’s successor in the 28 days before Election Day. In the Electoral College, Lincoln carried every state except Kentucky and Delaware. On December 6, 1864, he nominated a former political rival and esteemed ally of abolitionists and of the Radical Republicans who had long considered Lincoln too cautious, Salmon P. Chase. The Senate confirmed Chase the same day. (Regular Senate Judiciary Committee hearings before a Senate vote on Supreme Court nominees did not begin until 1955)

As Chief Justice, Chase presided over the Senate impeachment trial of Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, who escaped conviction and removal from office by one vote. By ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865, the United States abolished slavery and declared that all persons born in this country, without exception, were citizens, thereby nullifying Taney’s ruling in the Dred Scott case.


Basler, Roy P., editor, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, “ Sixth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas, at Quincy Illinois ”, III, pp.245, 255 (1953).

Basler, Roy P., editor, ibid., “First Inaugural Address—Final Text, March 4, 1861,” IV, 262–71.

“By Telegraph—Morning Dispaches—From Baltimore”, Quincy Daily Whig , May 27, 1861, p. 2

“Death of Chief Justice Taney”, Quincy Daily Whig , October 15, 1864, p. 2.

“Illness of Chief Justice Taney”, Quincy Daily Whig , December 31, 1855, p. 2.

“Perversion of Truth”, Quincy Daily Whig, March 31, 1857, p.2.

Scott v. Sandford , 60 U.S. 393 (1857); (the name of the respondent owner of Dred Scott was misspelled by the Court reporter and should have been “Sanford”.)

Stone, Geoffrey R., “Understanding Supreme Court Confirmations”, The Supreme Court Review,  (January 2011), pp. 381-467


By Arlis Dittmer 08 Nov, 2020

The last great pandemic the world faced began in 1918. It was called the Spanish Flu but it did not start in Spain. What is known is that the first cases in the United States were in military camps, most notably in Fort Riley, Kansas in spring 1918. The cause was unknown and thought to be bacterial... In July, the Quincy Daily Herald reported, “Influenza is extremely infectious and is caused by a microbe know to scientists as ‘Pfeiffer’s bacillus.’ … Everyone knows-to his sorrow- the symptoms of the disease, and it is important, if the spread is to be checked, to consult a physician and dose up with quinine immediately they are felt coming on.” There were at least four waves of this influenza from 1918 to 1920. There was no vaccine and no antibiotics to treat secondary infections such as pneumonia. It wasn’t until 1930 that influenza was identified as a virus.

Influenza has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. It was first referenced as catarrh in the 15th century and the French called it la grippe in the 17th century. Sometimes in America it was called grip.

Each month the board of health in Quincy would report on deaths in the city from accidents, suicides, and diseases. The report might say; tuberculosis, 6, measles, 1, pneumonia, 10, influenza 1. One Quincy Daily Journal article in 1913 said, “Ever since the influenza epidemic of 1889-90 we have experienced waves of infectious catarrhal colds which have been spoken of as influenza, or grip, or simply as colds. The 1889-1890 influenza epidemic, although much smaller than the 1918 outbreak, was called the Russian Flu.

There are many different strains of influenza and prior to the 1918 outbreak the disease was a seasonal health concern. In the early part of the 20th century influenza was on the list of contagious diseases such as typhoid, scarlet fever, diphtheria, and measles. The health department or doctor would put a sign on the door signifying the presence of the disease in the household. The children were kept home from school and the family was expected to self quarantine.

In February 1918, the Quincy Daily Journal reported on a parent teacher meeting that had the superintendent of Blessing Hospital, Mrs. Pearl Ringland, as the guest speaker. She talked about hygiene, disease prevention and said, “Of course, we all know the way to live with our children is to direct their lives along sanitary and hygienic lines.” Her talk centered on preventing childhood diseases and she cited the acute common cold as a result of another infection such as influenza, while the chronic cold could come from poor hygiene. Although some of her conclusions were incorrect, her goal was to protect other children from a sick child and to remind families to keep the sickroom in isolation.

In April the Quincy Daily Herald report on “a mysterious malady” in Mexico, Missouri among high school students with well over 100 affected. For some the first symptom reported was fainting among both boys and girls. Eventually the board of health and local physicians decided it was some type of influenza. The paper jokingly reported the street salutation in Mexico was, “Good morning, have you had it.”

As late as September 1, 1918, Quincy papers had only a few articles on the Spanish flu and most were about its spread in Europe. News items about the disease changed rapidly between September and December in Quincy.

That year school started in Quincy on September 4th. On September 28 the Illinois Department of Public Health issued rules and regulations regarding the influenza outbreak. All cases were to be reported within 24 hours to the local health authority who then notified Springfield whether the patient was employed or going to school and what the plans were to prevent the spread. The patient was to be isolated and those around him or her wear a mask. They were not to be in public places. Funerals were only allowed if the victim was embalmed.

The October 9th Quincy Daily Herald said, “Society Page Has ‘Flu’” and then went on to talk about cancelled parties and trips, meetings postponed, movie theaters closed, mentioning only churches and schools remaining open. A few days later schools closed.

Quincy high school closed due to the many absences. The high school boys unaffected were finding jobs around town using the “flu vacation” to earn money, some earning $3.25 per day. When school reopened in mid November each student was given a medical inspection. There was an assembly and two physicians gave a talk on flu prevention with instructions to stay home if sick. Principal Wellemeyer talked about making up missed school work. The football schedule had been cancelled except for the Thanksgiving game with Pittsfield which the players chose to play.

Some schools closed for several weeks and then reopened with many students still absent, only to close again. Some schools tried to remain open but had to close certain classrooms due to sick teachers. Quincy school superintendent Gill reported 600 absences in December while the normal attendance would have been 4,150 students. School closures and reopening were happening all over the county. Coatsburg was closed while Lorraine had only ½ of the students present. Golden and Clayton schools were closed, reopened, and closed again over the last three months of 1918.

Unfortunately the flu reoccurred with newspaper articles mentioning school closures and cancellation in 1919 and 1920. According to the February 6, 1920 Quincy Daily Herald, Carthage cancelled two basketball games with Quincy high school reporting, “Several excuses for this change were given, among them being the prevalence of the flu in that city.”

History can and does repeat itself.


“Carthage Cancels Basketball Game.” Quincy Daily Herald, February 6, 1920, 16.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “History of 1918 Flu Pandemic.

“Clayton School Closed Again Because of Flu.” Quincy Daily Journal, December 10, 1918, 2.

“County Schools are Fighting the ‘Flu.’” Quincy Daily Herald, December 11, 1918, 10.

“Dangers of the Common Cold.” Quincy Daily Journal , January 3, 1913, 4.

“’Flu’ Handicaps Public Schools.” Quincy Daily Herald , December 11, 1918, 5.

“Flu Quarantine is Lifted in Basco.” Quincy Daily Herald , February 18, 1920, 4.

“Have Parent-Teachers’ Meetings.” Quincy Daily Journal , February 14, 1918, 3.

“High School Boys Make Use of Vacation.” Quincy Daily Journal , October 31, 1918, 4.

“High School Notes.” Quincy Daily Whig , November 15, 1918, 8.

“How the School Boys Make Use of Vacation.” Quincy Daily Journal, October 31, 1918, 4.

Newkirk, Joseph. “Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918 Took its Toll on Quincyans.” Quincy Herald Whig ,  April 1, 2018.

“Queer Malady In Mexico, MO.” Quincy Daily Herald, April 3, 1918, 4.

“Social News.”   Quincy Daily Herald, October 9, 1918, 12.

“The Summer ‘Flu.’” Quincy Daily Journal , August 18, 1919, 4.

“To Abandon City Dump.” Quincy Daily Journal , April 26, 1911, 9.







By Justin Coffey 01 Nov, 2020

The 1960 presidential election was one of the closest contests in American history. The race pitted Vice President Richard M. Nixon against Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy. The two men waged a fierce campaign, battling for every vote. The election is famous for a number of firsts. It featured the first televised presidential debates. Nixon became the first candidate to campaign in all 50 states. It was also the first time a Catholic was ever elected president of the United States.

Kennedy narrowly defeated Nixon. Out of 75 million votes cast, Kennedy’s margin was just 119,000, a percentage of just .16 percent. The Electoral College vote was not as close, with Kennedy taking 303 and Nixon winning 219. But a shift in just a few thousand votes in Texas, Missouri, and Illinois could have thrown the election to Nixon. More than 4.7 million voters went to the polls that day in Illinois, and Kennedy received a bare majority of votes—9,000—giving Kennedy the state’s 27 electoral votes.  

While most election observers believed that Illinois would be decided by the results in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, the downstate vote was just as critical, which is why both campaigns placed such an emphasis on the region. In a time when Illinois was one of the key swing states in the nation, neither campaign could afford to ignore the state. So they pulled out all the stops. Although JFK did not stop in Quincy in 1960, he visited a year earlier, where he spoke at Quincy College. In 1960, Kennedy dispatched his running mate, Texas Senator Lyndon B. Johnson to Quincy in September, while Nixon visited a month later.

Anticipating the visit, the September 14th Herald Whig said, “If he speaks in Quincy, he will be the first national candidate to visit this area in the current campaign.” Johnson arrived on Tuesday, September 27. Accompanied by his wife Lady Bird, Johnson landed at Baldwin Field early in the afternoon. He was greeted by a crowd of about 300. According to the September 27th Quincy Herald Whig , Johnson spoke from the steps of his chartered American Airlines turbo-jet. He gave what the newspaper described as a “fiery 10-minute talk” before proceeding to Washington Park, where he spoke for nearly 30 minutes. The crowd at the park, estimated at 2,000, was enthusiastic as they listened to LBJ, who the newspaper said shouted, “This is the week—and this is the place---the 1960 Democratic campaign goes into high gear.” Later in the speech he prescribed “a good dose of mouthwash” for “the Republican campaigners [who] have been through the country peddling eyewash about themselves—and hogwash about the Democrats.”

Not to be outdone, Richard Nixon landed at Baldwin Field on Friday, October 28. Nixon was accompanied by his wife Pat. There was something of a surprise to greet Nixon—the Christian Brothers Marching Band. Traditionally, most Catholics in Quincy, and indeed the country, were Democrats. Further, in 1960, Catholics had one of their own running for president, but as a sign of respect for the vice president, the band played for him. Unlike LBJ, Nixon made only one stop in Quincy. He almost certainly lacked the time to tour the city, given that he would make 10 campaign speeches that day. In a testament to the importance of the downstate Illinois vote, Nixon also visited Carbondale, Centralia, Danville, Mattoon, and Tolono. Quincy was the third-to-last rally that day (Nixon also crossed over into Davenport, Iowa for a brief event). The crowd at Baldwin was far larger—about 7,000 turned out for his campaign stop. Nixon began by thanking Governor William Stratton and urging his reelection. Nixon also took the time to note the district’s former House member, Sid Simpson, a man Nixon called one of his “closest friends and advisors.” Simpson served the district from 1943 until his death, when he was succeeded by his wife Edna, who was in the crowd. Nixon, who was suffering from a cold, managed to deliver a fairly long speech. According to the October 29th Quincy Herald Whig, he told the crowd, “ I can assure you that the major responsibility of the next president is never to forget the problems of the average family.” Most of his talk was reserved for criticizing his rivals’ economic program, which Nixon claimed would lead to inflation and higher taxes.

A visit by the Vice President was an event in itself, but that was just one of many important occasions taking place in the Gem City that day. The Herald Whig ran an editorial that opened with this: “Those cynical and myopic souls who sometimes yawn that ‘nothing ever happens in Quincy,’ would have to admit that things did happened Friday.” In addition to Nixon’s visit, the activities included a tour of Gardner Denver by New York brokers, who were there “to learn first-hand about company products and prospects. Later that night, the Harlem Globetrotters played at the Quincy College gymnasium.   And “at the old Wood mansion a preview of the remodeled and redecorated home of the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County was being held for invited guests.”   All in all, Friday, October 28 was one of the more memorable days in Quincy’s history.

Election Day fell on Tuesday, November 8. The results in Quincy were not much of a surprise. A heavily Catholic and Democratic city gave its votes to Kennedy, while Nixon swept traditionally Republican Adams County.  Nixon also won the downstate Illinois vote by a significant margin, but not enough to offset the Kennedy vote in Cook County. Today Illinois is not a swing state. Yet there was a time when Illinois was a state whose vote could not be predetermined and Quincy represented an important part of the state’s outcome.  


“Expected to Stop Here” Quincy Herald Whig, September 14, 1960, B10.

“Nixon Greeted by 7,000 at Baldwin Field.” Quincy Herald Whig , October 29, 1960, 1.

Quincy, IL. Carl and Shirley Landrum, eds. (Charleston: Arcadia, 1960).

Senator Looks Vigorous: Johnson Rips Complacency of G. O. P. in Quincy Talk.” Quincy Herald Whig, September 28, 1960, B14.

“Vote Drive Goes in High Gear Here” Quincy Herald Whig , September 27, 1960, 16.




By Joseph Newkirk 25 Oct, 2020

As Democrats convened in New York City during the summer of 1924 to select a presidential candidate, delegates remained sharply divided over Prohibition, publicly denouncing the politically powerful Ku Klux Klan, and a graduated income tax to aid struggling farmers and the less fortunate. Opposing forces of the 20 candidates whose names had been placed into nomination clashed and tussled through 102 ballots without deciding on a winner.

Finally, on the 103rd ballot—the longest in American history—a majority nominated compromise candidate John W. Davis, a scholarly conservative senator from West Virginia and a Wall Street lawyer who did not actively pursue his party’s nod. Quincy Sheriff Ernest J. Grubb served as a sergeant-at-arms and local Democratic Party leader Floyd E. Thompson as one of the vice-chairmen at this convention. Quincyan Emery Lancaster was the only delegate to cast all 103 of his ballots for Davis and he became a close friend and confidant of the nominee.

Davis chose Nebraska Governor Charles Bryan, brother of famed attorney and three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, as his running mate. This Democratic joint-ticket began a lackluster campaign against sitting President Calvin Coolidge, whose motto “Keep Cool and Keep Coolidge” promised to steer the country on a steady course.    

Many people in both the Democratic and Republican Parties believed that Davis and Coolidge’s platforms were too similar to represent the country’s growing liberal views. Wisconsin Republican Senator Robert M La Follette, vowing to end the “orgy of corruption,” formed his own Progressive Party and began a vigorous campaign that undermined support from the two major party candidates.

Soon after the Democratic convention, political leaders in Quincy began plans to bring Senator Davis to town. They formed committees and established a headquarters at 508 Hampshire, which also housed a Davis-Jones Club to support the presidential candidate and Judge Norman L. Jones of Ottawa for Illinois governor. Davis accepted an invitation to speak at Baldwin Park on October 15, 1924, the first presidential candidate to visit Quincy since William Jennings Bryan campaigned here in 1896.

Although Davis had not supported the 19th amendment to the U. S. Constitution granting women suffrage in 1920, planners reserved 100 seats at Baldwin Park for females attending the speech. The new medium of radio had provided live broadcasts of the Democratic convention. Campaign workers for Davis required local radio coverage of his speech and amplifiers at Baldwin Park. Quincy electrician Russell Williams furnished them. City Alderman Louis F. Fuelbier formally welcomed the senator and Mayor William B. Smiley proclaimed it “John W. Davis Day.” Former Quincyan Fred Haskins, who lived in Washington D. C. and worked as a correspondent for local papers, provided readers with detailed reports.

Following a luncheon at the Hotel Quincy, a parade escorted Davis through downtown and then to Baldwin Park, where a crowd estimated at 12,000 people had assembled. This number included an entourage of reporters and photographers from major newspapers around the country and trainloads of spectators from surrounding counties in Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa. Many local stores closed and allowed employees to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event. The Eagles Club Band of Quincy and the Illinois State Band of Springfield played patriotic music, while vendors and political groups handed out literature and curios.

Davis’ speech differed significantly in a couple of ways from his standard campaign oration. Because of Prohibition’s unpopularity in this area, he did not mention his endorsement of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution enacted five years earlier that banned the sale, manufacture, and consumption of alcohol and now sharply divided the country between “wets” and “drys”. Also, aware of strong local support for the Ku Klux Klan, he did not openly condemn this organization as he had during most other campaign stops. President Coolidge, though, fearful of a backlash, never publicly censured the KKK by name during the entire 1924 political season.

Senator Davis stated that national and local politics are inextricably bound. A transcript published in the Quincy Daily Herald of October 16, 1924, included this passage: “You cannot have good government in Washington, unless you have it in Adams County. You cannot have good government in Adams County unless you have it in Quincy. Government in the United States hails from the bottom up, and not from the top down.”

In his one-hour speech, Davis said that the Teapot Dome scandal of the previous Harding administration had shocked the country. He warned that several of the “corrupt” cabinet members and officials embroiled in that notorious crime still served in Coolidge's current administration. In response to the growing divide between urban and rural America, he assured local farmers that he would help them, and vowed to bring fairness, honesty, and integrity back to Washington.

On November 4, 1924, voters went to the polls. Results surprised few observers: President Coolidge won in a landslide, with 15.7 million votes (382 electoral votes) to Davis’ 8.4 million votes (136 electoral votes). La Follette garnered 4.8 million votes and 13 electoral votes from his home state of Wisconsin. The president’s coattails extended to the state level, where Illinois Republicans won the governor’s race and the 20th Congressional District.

The tally in Quincy proved even more lopsided than the national numbers. In the lowest percentage turnout of eligible voters for a presidential election in local history, Coolidge received 1,223 votes to only 52 for Davis. Democrats running for Quincy offices, though, split the ticket. They revamped their forces and looked to the future.

In 1928, Democrats won three out of every four local elections, the same year that Republican Herbert Hoover entered the White House. One year later, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Hoover would be the last Republican president until 1952. During that 24-year span, Quincy voters elected four consecutive Democratic mayors and strongly supported—with the endorsement of John W. Davis—every Democratic presidential candidate.


“Coming to Quincy.” Quincy Daily Herald , Oct. 11, 1924, 1.

“Democratic Party in Adams County,” in People’s History of Quincy and Adams County. Rev. Landry Genosky O. F. M, ed. Quincy, IL: Jost & Kiefer Printing Co., 1973, pp. 274-80.

“Democrats Will Split, Says Illinois Delegates to Convention.” Quincy Daily Herald , June 26, 1924, 1.

“Extend Formal Greetings to John W. Davis.” Quincy Daily Journal , Oct. 14, 1924, 12.

“John W. Davis Pleased With Quincy Reception, Candidate’s Busy Life.” Quincy Daily Herald , Oct. 16, 1924, 1.

Murray, Robert. The 103rd Ballot: The Legendary 1924 Democratic Convention That Forever Changed Politics. New York: Harper & Row, 1976.

“Nomination of Davis Brings Joy to Most Democrats of Quincy.” Quincy Daily Herald , July 10, 1924,14.

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