THE earliest history of which we have any accurate account of the location
where Mound City now stands dates back to 1812, that being the time of the
Indian massacre, and as it tells of the life and fate of many early pioneers
in Illinois, we give the history of the massacre, as told by Thomas Falker,
and as written by Kev. E. B. Olmsted, and published in the newspapers some
Thomas Falker, who died in Pulaski County in 1859, gave the facts of the massacre of the whites where Mound City now stands. The first white settlers of the extreme southern portion of Illinois were Tennesseans, but it is not generally known that they were driven here by an earthquake, which gave its first shake December 16, 181 1. The present site of Cairo was then known as Bird's Point. Two families, one named Clark and the other Phillips, lived near where is now Mound City. A man named Conyer had settled below the old town, America, and a Mr. Lyerle, a short distance above, and a man named Humphrey lived where Lower Caledonia now stands. These were all the inhabitants of the country, from the mouth of the Ohio to Grand Chain — twenty miles, They had made but small improvement, and as the land had not yet come into market, of course they did not own the soil. The family of Clark consisted of only himself and wife; their children were grown up and lived elsewhere, but paid them an occasional visit. The other family near Mound City, consisted of Mrs. Phillips and a son and daughter nearly grown and a man named Kenaday. The family originally were from Tennessee, and removed from that State into what is now Union County. Mr. Phillips having occasion to return to Tennessee, on business, Kenaday became acquainted with his wife and persuaded her to abandon Phillips and live with him. No disturbance followed this delinquency, and the easy morals of the times seems to have winked at it. In the fall of 1812, these families were enjoying their usual quiet, when some Indians, ten in number, paid them an unexpected visit. They belonged to the Creek tribe, which inhabited the lower part of Kentucky, and had been exiled and outlawed for some supposed outrages committed on their own nation. They were known to the inhabitants of that country as " the outlawed Indians," and on the occasion of this unwelcome visit were returning from a tour in the northern part of the territory, where they had been to see some other tribes. On the same day, Mr. Phillips returned home, accompanied by a Mr. Shaver, who lived in Union County, and whose wife Mrs. Phillips had been attending in her sickness.
The cabin of Clark stood near the west boundary line of what is Mound City; that of Mrs. Phillips a short distance above, on the next elevation. Shaver stopped at Clark's and fastened his horse near the back door. "When he saw the Indians, he expressed apprehension to Clark, but he told him he was acquainted with them, had traded with them, and did not suppose they had any bad intentions. Yet when Clark on one occasion went out to the smoke house Shaver saw by the pallor of his face that he was much alarmed. It was his opinion that Clark had seen or overheard through the openings of the house enough to satisfy him of the hostile intentions of the savages, but feared to speak of it lest Shaver should mount his horse and leave him to his fate. The Indians asked for something to eat. Mrs. Clark told them if they would grind some corn on the hand mill she would prepare them a meal. They did so and partook of the hospitality of a family they fully intended to butcher before night.
The Indians were armed with guns and tomahawks; one of them came to Shaver and felt the muscles of his thighs, his knees, etc., as though he wished to judge of his ability to run. " Do you wish to run a race ? " said Shaver. " No. " " Do you wish to wrestle ? " "No." The situation of the white settlers were becoming more alarming. They hoped, after the Indians had eaten, they would take their departure, but they sauntered around as if unwilling to do so. It was Shaver's intention to carry home some whisky, but Clark was afraid to draw it while the Indians were there. At length, five of the Indians went up to Mrs. Phillips'; the other five remained at Clark's. Two of the latter took their station with apparent carelessness in the front door (next the river), and two more stood near the fire-place, where sat Mr., and Mrs. Clark and Shaver. The latter happening to look at the Indians in the front door, saw one of them make a signal in the direction of Mrs. Phillips', which was in sight, by striking his hands together vertically several times. Directly he heard screams and shouts in that direction, and the next instant received a stunning blow on his head, from the hatchet of the Indian who stood near him. He fell forward, but being a powerful man, he dashed between the two Indians at the buck door and ran for his horse, which, as said, was fastened near the back door. He soon saw, however, his retreat in that direction would be cut off, so he ran down the river bank, with two of the Indians in full pursuit. They doubtless supposed, as Shaver was already wounded, he would fall an easy prey; but he was fleet of foot, and then he was running for his life. Blinded by the blood which poured down his face, and which he occasionally dashed away with his hand, he made for the bayou below the present Marine Ways. A hatchet just missed his head and fell many yards in front of him. His first impulse was to pick it up and defend himself, but a moment's reflection convinced him the chances were too much against him. It was half a mile or so to the bayou; Shaver gained it in advance of the Indians. It was quite full and partially frozen over. He plunged in and gained the opposite shore. The Indians paused on the bank, afraid to follow. They told him he was a brave, and endeavored to induce him to return. Tradition says he addressed some very strong language to the Indians and made his way to the Union County settlements. His escape, considering the circumstances, was wonderful. The Indians murdered Clark and his wife. Mrs. Phillips, her son and daughter and Kenaday. They ripped up the feather beds, destroyed the furniture and carried off whatever struck their fancy, including Shaver's tine horse. They crossed the river into Kentucky and were followed by the citizens of the settlement in Union County for some distance, but no trace of them could be found. A few days after, Capt. Phillips, who was stationed at Fort Massac, came down with a company of men to bury the dead. A shocking sight met their gaze. Clark and his wife were found in their house dead. The body of young William Phillips -was found drifted ashore about a mile below Mound City. His sister was not found; one of her slippers was found on the bank of the river. It is supposed she and her brother got into a skiff and were shot down before they could get away. Kenaday was found some distance from the cabin of Mrs. Phillips. His shoulder and back much cut in gashes by the tomahawks of the savages. The body of Mrs. Phillip.-^ was found, and also the body of her unborn babe, impaled upon a stake.
After the Indian massacre, the place known as the Mounds seems to have been deserted for a time, but its advantages as a trading point overcame the fears, mixed with superstition, that possessed the people that migrated to and up and down the Ohio River, and in 1836 there were two double log cabins, with two thirty-foot rooms, a twelvefoot porch, a clapboard roof over all, with large tire-place in each end, five other cabins and one storehouse. The two double cabins stood on the river bank, near where Meyer & Nordman's stave factory now stands. Two of the small cabins above where the Mound City Hotel now stands, two more near where P. M. Kelly now lives. The storehouse, a little southeast of what was known as the Big Mound, on the river bank; a strip of ground then lay between the mound and river. The store, which consisted of dry goods, groceries and a general assortment of such article? as were absolutely necessary,
not embracing anything, however, that could be considered in those days a luxury. It was kept by Forbes & Vancil; the latter died at the Mounds, and the former in the county. In connection with this store, they had a wood-yard. They paid their woodchoppers in goods, and traded extensively with hunters and trappers, and in this way did a thriving business for a number of years. The other cabins were occupied first by one and then by another, as they happened along, but the cabins could never be found empty. In 1838, a regiment of soldiers, re turning from the Florida war, on their way to Jefferson Barracks, got ice-bound, and remained in camp, just this side of the mouth of Cache River, all winter. Three-quarters of a mile south of Mound City, the country was then comparatively a wilderness. What few emigrants bad sought the location had brought with them various kinds of stock. The wild grass and the vast canebrakes gave them unlimited pasture, summer and winter, and they increased rapidly. Wild cattle and hogs, never having been cared for by human hands, abounded in the woods. But they tell that the wild stock and the tame ones were much fewer when the soldiers left in the spring, that it was their custom to kill anything they saw that they imagined might be good to eat. On one occasion, a large company of them came up to Forbes & Vancil's store; they found the log porch hung with game, among which was a dressed deer. They flocked on and around the porch, and when they left, the turkeys, ducks and squirrels were all gone, and nothing left of the dressed deer but its skeleton. Soldiers have acted very much alike, it would seem, in all ages.
There was a road leading from the Mounds to America, one to Jonesboro and one to Unity, then the county seat, but they were not broad gauges, nor were they air lines, and to travel them with a wagon involved much uncertainty as to the outcome. In 1838, there was a storehouse built, by a man named Coblitz, of considerable pretensions. It was a frame and two stories high, 20x50 feet, but was burnt down in 1839. It also stood near the mound on the river. We find at this date and earlier the present site of Mound City, an important trading point on the Ohio River for many miles. When Mr. Coblitz left, which was after his storehouse and its effects had burned, Mr. James Dougherty, father of A. J. and J. L. Dougherty, moved to the Mounds in 1839, and became the business man of the place, cultivated the ten or fifteen acres of cleared land and continued the wood yard for three years. After James Dougherty, Joseph Tibbs came, a man of much native shrewdness, without education, not being able to read or write his name, but was the recognized leader of a majority of the inhabitants of this immediate settlement. He was frequently involved in law suits, and on one occasion he was asked why he did not employ a lawyer to defend him. His reply indicated "the kind of a man he was." He said he had found it safer and even cheaper to employ witnesses. Joseph Tibbs cultivated the cleared land at the Mounds from 1843 to 1852. In 1857, he was living on his farm, two and a half miles west of Mound City, when the writer met him for the first time. The first question he asked after the introduction was, had I brought a good horse with me. I intimated that his reputation had extended to my former home, consequently I brought no horse. He died in 1859 and had considerable property. He left but one son, and he demented. While many hard stories are told of Joseph Tibbs, he had many good qualities.
From the time steamboats navigated the Ohio River, the deep water, the banks and the safe harbor, now fronting Mound City, was known by steamboat men and used by them as a place of safety for landing and mooring their boats during low water. This locality was considered by them the head of navigation during low water, when the upper river was frozen over. Steamers could reach this point at all seasons of the year from the Lower Mississippi. The warm waters from the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers prevented the formation of ice sufficient to interrupt navigation. As early as 1840, ten to fifteen steamboats laid up at the Mounds during the entire winter, while low water in the Mississippi, together with ice, prevented them from reaching St. Louis, and it has ever since that time been considered by steamboat men a desirable place for mooring boats during low water, ice or storms. The Ohio River at this point measures one mile from the Illinois to the Kentucky shore. The channel is wide and deep, and washes the Illinois side. The river widens from this point to its mouth, and in early days, when the commerce of the Ohio Valley was transported by rivers south, it was no uncommon thing to see ten or fifteen steamers in sight, including the celebrated Eclipse and like boats, loaded to the water's edge. It is not strange that a location that had been so long regarded so favorably as a trading point should attract attention, and its natural advantages made available in building upon the site a city. With that purpose in view, Gen. Moses M. Rawlings, in 1854, owning the following lands that had been owned by more than one person and had been divided into allotments and described as lots: Lot No. 2, containing thirty-five acres; Lot No. 5, containing thirty -eight acres; and Lot No. 12, containing thirteen acres, all in Section 36, Town 16, Range 1 west, determined to lay out a city. A history of Mound City without at least a brief history of Gen. Rawlings, would certainly be incomplete.
Gen. M. M. Rawlings was born in Virginia in 1798, his parents moving to Newcastle County, Ky., in 1794. When a boy, he left his father's house and on foot made his way to Shawneetown, Ill., reaching that place without a dollar in the spring of 1809. At that early day, the Saline salt works were being operated, and directly and indirectly gave employment to a number of laborers. Young Rawlings took hold of whatever came in his way to do. The result was he soon accumulated more than a bare jiving. He invested in produce, furs, or anything out of which he thought a profit might be the result. Gen. Rawlings .was married three times. He married his first wife, Miss Sarah J. Seaton, of Breckinridge County, Ky. , in 1811, long before he had reached his majority, and by whom he had ten children. All died before he came to Mound City but Sarah J, , wife of Dr. Henry F. Delaney, and now a widow, living on Rose Hill, six miles north of Mound City, and Francis M. Rawlings, a brilliant young lawyer, a man of imposing appearance, thoroughly educated and an orator not equaled in the State. He represented Union, Alexander and Pulaski Counties in the Legislature in the years 1854-55.
He died in 1858, which greatly distressed his father and friends. After his marriage with Miss Seaton, Gen. Rawlings enlarged his business, and in a few years he had the largest wholesale and retail dry goods and grocery establishment in the southern part of the State. He seems to have dealt in any and everything. Parties came down from Louis ville and agreed to pay him a certain price for all the pecans he could deliver to them at Louisville by a mentioned time. The result was the General loaded a steamboat with pecans, which resulted in the financial ruin of the company. A similar transaction occupied with salt. Gen. Rawlings was a large and powerful man, full six feet tall, and often weighed 300 pounds. He had great force of character; his energy and determination never failed him, and whatever he engaged in brought into action all his intellect and energy. He had received no education in his youth, no free school to attend in his boyhood. He was strictly a self-made man. He had a large amount of natural ability, and while employed in his active business life, he sought any moment he could spare to educating himself; while he did not excel in book learning, he did as the judge of char acter of his fellow-man. He was always exceedingly courteous, dignified and polite to ladies. No man living had greater respect or admiration for them. His kindness to little children was proverbial, and, while he was eccentric and irritable, and would often give vent to a whirlwind of words, not couched in Bible language upon slight provocation, yet the storm was soon over and he would be as calm as a May morning, but under all this worry and excitement, his heart was tender and yielded in sympathy and relief to distress wherever he found it. But his eccentricities got him into many episodes; while they were not injurious to any one or himself, they were at times a source of annoyance to his friends and even to himself. The anecdotes told of him and about him would fill a volume. He suffered periodically with the gout. A friend one day very injudiciously asked him if gout was painful. After exhausting himself on the absurdity of the question, he wound up by saying, " My God, my friend, put your big toe in a vise, have an able-bodied man turn the crank until it seems he can turn it no more, but have him turn it again. That, my God, my friend, is gout." He married his second wife, Miss Henrietta B. Calmes, daughter of Gen. Calmes, who lived near Hopkinsville, Ky., in 1829. She died in 1833, leaving two children — Florida, who became the wife of Dr. N. R. Casey, and died in Mound City, August, 1878' and Carroll H. Rawlings, who never married, and died in Texas in 1877. Gen. Rawlings was one of the three Internal Improvement Commissioners. In 1839, Col. Oakley, Gen. Rawlings, two of the Commissioners, in company with ex-Governor Reynolds, one of the Governor's agents, went to Europe to negotiate canal and improvement bonds, etc. Judge R. M. Young, also an agent of the Governor's, subsequently joined them in London, and while the internal improvement system of that day, as viewed at this date, was not the thing to do, for negociating bonds and for whatever success the Commissioners had financially, was admitted to be due to Gen. Rawlings. Among the many enterprises the General engaged in was that of steamboating. He owned at one time the side -wheel steamboat Tuskina, that ran between Louisville and New Orleans. He made one or more trips as her Captain, and when she made a landing and when she backed from a landing was invariably accompanied with a storm of commands which kept the pilot busy ringing the bells and the engineers working their engines and the passengers apprehensive she was on lire. Gen. Rawlings moved from Shawneetown in 1840, purchasing a magnificent residence, surrounded by 200 acres of land, highly improved, four miles from Louisville, Ky. In 1832, he was appointed by Gov. Reynolds Major General of the State militia. In 1840, he married Miss Ann H. Simms, of "Washington City. She died in 1849, without children. In 1846, he sold his country place and moved into Louisville. Gen. Rawlings never attached himself to any church, bat was always ready and willing to aid in building churches, and for several years before hotels were built in Mound City, the ministers who visited the place found a welcome at his house. He read the Bible much, and was familiar with its teachings. He was baptized in the Catholic Church by Mother Angela, of the Holy Cross, a few hours before his death, which occurred January 11, 1863, aged seventy. Having an admiration for the State that had been his home for nearly forty years, had much to do in his location of Mound City in 1854.
The original plat of Mound City was made by William J. Spence, Surveyor of Pulaski County, for Gen. Moses M. Rawlings' property, April, 1854. At that time, a log cabin stood on the banks of the river, and fifteen or twenty acres of land cleared was all the evidence of civilization to be seen. The General utilized the cabin as hotel, boarding house and residence. During rain-storms, it sheltered them, but when the days and nights were pleasant they staid and slept upon the Mound, on which had grown many locust trees, making a delightful shade, while the gentle south breeze from off the broad Ohio, from here to its mouth, only six miles away, made it a pleasant place of resort in the day time and delightful at night, and during the days and nights when the mosquitoes congregated, which they did in the early history of Mound City, the mound was about the only place of safety, or where you could stay and with any degree of confidence say your life was your own. It was upon this mound individuals met in consultation, and discussed and predicted the bright prospects of the future for the embryo city; upon this mound conventions were held; here political meetings were addressed by young and by old politicians; here their voices were heard proclaiming the faith that was in them, and urging their fellow-men to follow them or the country would be ruined. Upon this mound the late Governor, John Dougherty, in his elegant style and voice urged his hearers to vote for Breckenridge, and by doing so save the country: here Hon. W. Josh Allen and Gen. John A. Logan, together in silvery tones, told the claims of Stephen A. Douglas, and occasionally came and talked upon the mound to the people, a travelling missionary, as it were, in favor of Mr. Lincoln. Upon this mound, while a few of the faithful rang the bells, Tom Green and others shook their locks and shouted for Bell and Everett; upon this mound the distinguished editor and poet, George D. Prentice, lectured upon the present and the future of the Mississippi Valley. Upon this mound, on Sabbath Days, came the ministers of the Gospel of all denominations and exhorted the inhabitants to flee from the wrath to come; and here at dewy eve the beaus and belles enjoyed the soft zephyrs and whispered promises and pledges of eternal love. While other mounds are scattered over the place, this one, upon the river bank, gave the name to the location and afterward to the city. At what particular period of the world's history these mounds were made, tradition fails to tell. On digging into them, the usual Indian relics are unearthed — pot metal, tomahawks made of stone, and many other things supposed to have been used in war and in peace by the aborigines.
The first sale of lots in Mound City took place in May, 1854. Thirty or forty were sold. The first lot sold brought $135; none less than $50, and none more than $200. The lots were all 50x200 feet. Gen. Rawlings built the first house in Mound City. It was a frame, two stories high, 25x100 feet. It was framed in Louisville, Ky. , and brought to Mound City on steamboats; this was in 1854. He filled the lower story with dry goods, groceries, hardware, etc., and used the second story for a residence. The next house was built by Gilbert Boren. It was two stories high, and a frame. In the lower part he kept a saloon, and lived in the second story. He met with a tragic death a year afterward while on the little steamer Gazelle, plying between Cairo and Paducah, becoming involved in a difficulty with the Steward of the boat, who stabbed him with a butcher knife. He died in a few minutes afterward. The third house was built by R. H. Warner— a two-story frame house. He kept a grocery store in the lower story and lived in the upper one. The fourth house was built by William Dougherty. He was born at America, four miles above Mound City, on the Ohio River, in 1828. He came to Mound City in a trading boat in 1854. At that time, it was not uncommon to see twenty or thirty trading boats tied up along the river bank at Mound City. After remaining a few months on his trading boat, he came ashore and built the fourth house in the city. It was also a frame and two-story house. The lower story was a storehouse, while he lived in the upper story. Mr. Dougherty was appointed Postmaster in 1859, and resigned in 1861; he still resides in Mound City. The first brick house built in Mound City was F. M. Rawlings', in 185G; it was fifty feet square, two stories, with a thirty-foot ell — a very fine building, that succumbed to the great fire of 1879. Before Mound City had been platted, Gen. Rawlings had determined to build a railroad from the mounds to connect with the Illinois Central Railroad, three miles west and eight miles above Cairo, but to do so it required a charter. The winter of 1854-55 found him at Springfield, urging its passage. Strange as it may seem, he met with stubborn opposition. The Representatives of the Cairo Company opposed the passage of the charter with all their energy and with all the means at their command. The building of the Mound City Railroad, three miles long, seems to have caused some apprehension that it might in some way or at some time be injurious to the interest of Cairo. Gen. Rawlings met one objection after another only to find new ones developed as old ones disappeared. It is a part of the history of the times, however, that many members of that Legislature who have since figured in politics, both State and national, found themselves owners of corner lots in Cairo. The charter passed, and the General set about building his road at once, without selling stock or bonds, but with his own individual means. The Commissioners to condemn it were Joseph Essex, Joel Lackey and Jefferson Parker. The Commissioners reported at the October term of court, 1855, that no damage would accrue to the land or owners by building the road. William Burk, an Irish gentleman, who had much experience in building railroads, and having just completed a contract on the Illinois Central Railroad, was given the contract of building the Mound City Railroad. Gen. Rawlings in his lifetime claimed to have engineered it himself without instruments, determining the levels and grades with his eyes. The winter of 1855-56 was a disagreeable one, especially the spring of 1856. The contractor met with delays from rains. The intention was to make the road on an air line from Mound City to the Central, but when about half way out from Mound City, they found water standing on the line of the road in such quantities as to interfere with the progress of the work, and, desiring to complete it within a certain time, induced them to make a curve sufficient to avoid the water, hence the cook in the road that has so often been asked why it was done and why the road was not built straight. By the time the road bed was completed, the iron had arrived, via New Orleans per steamboat, and soon followed the locomotive, baggage and passenger coach, and in the spring of 1856 the whistle of the "Pilot" started the inhabitants, alarmed the cattle that fed upon the cane along the line of the road, and put the owls and other birds of prey to flight for the first time. There was but five or six houses in Mound City when the road was finished. The building of the road was looked upon as an era, promising much in the near future for the city. Up to this time, the place was without a post office, the people receiving their mail from Caledonia mostly, but in June, 1856, a post office was established, receiving two mails a day, with Gen. Rawlings Postmaster, a position he had to take for the want of any other available man to fill it. In 1858. Gen. Rawlings resigned, much to his relief, and equally so to the public. He kept the office in his store room. While his clerks were deputies and attended to the office, there were times when persons would call for their mail, when the clerks were out and the General alone. We are sure he never opened or distributed a mail, neither did he ever find a letter or paper for any one. When he made the effort to do so, he never knew where to look for them, and after considerable worry, he would discharge the applicant with " Who would write you a letter, anyhow?" R. C. Daniel was appointed Postmaster to fill the vacancy. He kept the office in the railroad depot until early in 1859; he resigned and William Dougherty was appointed, and in 1861 he resigned and George Mertz was appointed and has been and is still Postmaster.
In 1855, on the 25th of June — more than a year after Gen. Rawlings had laid off Mound City, and his first and only sale of lots had taken place — Paul K. Wambaugh, John Fawcit Smith, and John R. Gabriel, who had conceived the idea of obtaining foothold in Mound City, formed a joint -stock association, under the name of Emporium Real Estate & Manufacturing Company, in the city of Cincinnati. It has never been recorded that either of the above gentlemen had a dollar at the time, to gain a foothold anywhere; however, they surrounded the organization with the mystery of secrecy. They gave out that a secret city was to be built upon the banks of the Lower Ohio; sometimes saying on the high bluff banks. The city was to be grander than all the cities built since the downfall of ancient Rome. The imaginary golden streets of the New Jerusalem were to be duplicated in the Emporium City — the name given to this forty mile square city on paper. The room they occupied in Cincinnati, while they were forming this association, was kept locked and bolted, the keys and bolts only turned upon the demand of one of the original three, or an initiated member accompanied by friends. When once within the private precincts, the above gentlemen would proceed to explain, in a whispered voice, with an occasional mysterious and fearful glance at the door, apprehending an intruder might approach and overhear the story of wealth and happiness that could only be vouchsafed to those who offered to take so much stock in the grandest enterprise known to any century; but before they placed their names on paper, the result of which would yield them in the near future all the wealth man ought to have or ever desire, they must make a solemn promise never to reveal to the uninformed what their eyes saw or their ears heard. Wambaugh sat at the head of the table, grave and dignified. Jere Griswold, who had been one of the first Initiated, and who afterward was the company's Secretary, sat with pen in hand and another behind his ear, with his bland smiles, could be heard to say, " Please sign your name on this line. Take 5=5,000 or $10,000 of stock?" "You may put me down for $10,000. Should trade and deals develop as I anticipate they will, I will take $10,000 more later." And so, from day to day, new members were added to the association, while J. Fawcit Smith, with a brilliant imagination, which constituted his principal stock-in-trade, extended, each day, the width and length of the streets of the secret city; while John R. Gabriel blew his trumpet in its softest notes in the corners of the room to the hesitating. Thus, in 1855, the Emporium Real Estate & Manufacturing Company was formed, and when the members met in June, 1856, they had over a thousand members. Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Illinois each had large representation, and at that time they represented a million and a half in money and real estate. A permanent organization was made by electing Hartzell Hiner, of Ohio, President, and J. W. Cochran, G. W. Hite, W. H. Stokes, H. K. Linsey, of Kentucky, John Jorriam, of Indiana, and M. M. Rawlings and Dr. Arter, of Illinois, Directors, with J. Griswold, Secretary. In the meantime, the company had purchased a strip of ground of Gen. Rawlings, lying north and running east and west along the line of his platted city. Joining this strip, they had purchased land from the Bichtel heirs,* all of which they
(*The land upon which Emporium City was located was Sections 19 and 30, Town 16, Range 1 east, also the southeast quarter of Section 25 and the north part of Section 36, Town 16, Range 1 west.)
laid out into streets and lots (including Washington Park, donated for court house, jail, etc., the ground where the jail now stands). Gen. Rawlings, in platting Mound City, made it with the river, but when the Emporium Company laid off Emporium City (more than a year later), they laid it off east and west, north and south, hence the streets in Emporium City strike Mound City at Walnut street, that divided the then city in the middle of the block.
The first sale of lots in Emporium City took place in July, 1856. The sale amounted to §100,000. In the same year, the Shelton House was built. It was three stories high, an imposing building, framed in Cincinnati and brought to Mound City on steamboats; and at the same time came mechanics, and in just sixty days from the time the frame was landed at Mound City, the hotel was completed, accommodating boarders and the traveling public. Sixty men were employed during its construction. Of all the mechanics who came to work upon the building, but one now resides in Mound City — Mr. James Holmes. J. C. Worthington was among the number, to do the painting; after living several years in Mound City he moved to a farm four miles northwest of Mound City. N. L. Wickmire, carpenter, remained in Mound City several years, then moved to Cairo, and from there to St. Louis, where he is now doing an extensive business as an architect. The rest have gone, we don't know where. James Holmes and J. C. Worthington were two of the incorporated Councilmen. The second sale of lots was in November, 1856. The terms of sale were one-quarter cash, the balance in three installments, with 6 per cent interest. The sale was a great success. Four or five hundred persons attended the sale. They were here from many of the States. Ninety-five lots were sold, bringing, in the aggregate, $92,800; the price per front foot varying from $90 to $14. At the third sale of lots, June, 1857, 137 lots were sold, averaging $761.40 each, and averaging $26,99 per front foot The sale amounted to $104,968. At the November sale following, ninety-seven lots were sold, averaging $957. At this sale a vacant lot in the neighborhood of where the Union Block now stands sold for $113 per front foot. It began to look as if Wambaugh's dignity, Fawcit Smith's imagination and Gabriel's whisperings had not been all in vain. Hartzell Hiner was still President of the company, and J. Griswold, Secretary; but it required several Assistant Secretaries to keep the books posted during the interregnums between the public sales. The President and Secretary were daily selling lots at private sale. Hiner, the President, looked and walked the Major General. Money flowed into the coffers: newer and larger safes were bought, to hold it; everything seemed to pale and grow dim outside of the Emporium Company. They built a house for their office, in which they had reception rooms, consultation rooms, clerks' rooms, president's room, private secretaries • and porters. A tingling bell was the signal that one of the high contracting parties desired to be waited on.
About this time, they conceived the idea that they needed more territory; they did not have lots enough; they must extend their borders; at the same time, enlarge their sphere of usefulness to their fellow-men. The Cairo Company owned forty acres of land in the woods northwest of the Emporium Company's plat. If it had not been bought of the Government by Hoi brook, or other Cairo agents, in an early day, for $1.25 per acre without ever having seen it, we are sure, under the fit act, it would have been the last forty acres purchased. After becoming satisfied they must have it, they began negotiating for it with Col. S. Staats Taylor, the Cairo Company's Agent. Finally, after much going and coming, Col. Taylor agreed (being it was them) to take $38,000 for the forty acres. President Hiner thought it was reasonable, and fully confident no other person living could have secured so favorable an offer from the Colonel as he had; but just at that particular time the President of the Emporium Company had only 130,000, but would have more very soon, and as they were needing the forty acres at once, he would pay Col. Taylor the §30,000 and give a mortgage on the entire forty acres to secure the payment of the remaining $8,000, Col. Taylor pretended not to hear the proposition distinctly the first time, but after Hiner had repeated it several times, the Colonel said he hated to part with the land — it was a forty acres he had always regarded as very valuable, but owing to friendship, etc. , he would take it. The $30,000 was paid to the Colonel, the mortgage was given, which some years after was foreclosed, and the Cairo Company still own the forty acres. In 1856. the Emporium Company purchased the steamboat " Buckeye Belle." She was a side-wheel boat, and was employed in towing barges of rock from up the Tennessee River, and from about Golconda, for foundations for houses and for cellars. She was often used for excursions, and for a short time run as a packet between Mound City and Hickman. Early in 1857, Mr. Alexander Kirkpatrick completed his pottery. In 1867, the Emporium Company bought of Gen. Rawlings the Mound City Railroad, and from that time operated it. When the crash came upon that company (the beginning of which might be dated from the time they gave the Cairo Company $30,000), they sold locomotive and passenger cars and ran the road with mules attached to a caboose. Less than a year ago it was sold to satisfy claims, and has since then been bought by the Illinois Central Railroad, with the understanding that they will shortly re-organize it by putting it in good condition, and make it a valuable feeder to this end of their road. The land purchased by the Emporium Company, and laid out into streets and lots, was covered with heavy timber, and when the trees were cut down and brush piled the ground looked to be covered ten feet deep, but logs and brush were finally burnt up, leaving the stumps of the trees, thick enough to nearly walk on them. That part of Emporium City was soon called " stump town," and while the stumps have long since disappeared, the name " Stump Town " still clings to that locality. Failing to have Gen. Rawlings change Mound City to Emporium City, an act of incorporation of Mound City, and to change the name of Emporium City to that of Mound City, passed January 29, 1857. In this act of incorporation, Moses B. Harrell was constituted Mayor, and Francis M. Rawlings, John Given, A. J. Miller, J. Griswold, James Holmes and Joseph C Worthington, Councilmen. Moses B. Harrell continued Mayor until 1859, when Dr. N. R. Casey was elected, and was Mayor from that time until 1874, a period of fifteen years, when Capt. Romeo Friganza was elected, who was Mayor until 1883, when George Mertz, present Mayor, was elected. Mound City has been an incorporated City twenty-six years, but has had but four Mayors.
In 1856, James Goodlow, of Cincinnati, Ohio, under the auspices of the Emporium Company, commenced and completed, in 1857, a large three-story brick foundry on the river front, in the upper portion of the city. It fronted the river 180 feet; it was complete and extensive in all its departments. Mr. Goodlow was an elegant old gentleman, and had much experience in foundries. He cast, in 1857, the heavy machinery for the marine ways of this place. "When the civil war broke out, he closed the foundry, but continued to live in Mound City until he died, which was in 1865, at the age of sixty-eight. His widow still resides in Mound City. Notwithstanding she is eighty-two years old, she is active, and does much of the work about the house. George Mertz was foreman of the foundry when building, and while it was in operation; still lives in Mound City. He has been Justice of the Peace, Police Magistrate, City Councilman, County Commissioner, Postmaster since 1861, and the present Mayor of the city. The foundry building was taken by the Government for the storage of shell and shot in 1863. Soon after it was thus occupied some sailors were handling loaded shells, when three exploded with a terrific noise, breaking down a part of the building, and instantly killing one sailor and frightfully mutilating two others. They died in a few hours in great agony, and thus the great foundry that promised so much for Mound City in her early days of prosperity, passed away. You can scarcely find the place upon which it stood. The Emporium Company, in 1856-57, built a number of houses to rent. At that time, many who came to locate, unable to get houses, went away.
The winter of 1857, the Emporium Company secured of the Illinois Legislature a charter for what was known as the Illinois Southern Railroad. The incorporators met the same year at the Shelton House, in Mound City, and organized. Gen. A. R. Butler, of Ohio, was made President, A. J, Keykendoll, of Vienna, C. B. Brown, of Cincinnati, Ohio, George W. Hite, R. B. Shelton, William Burke, of Mound City, Hiram Boren, of Caledonia, Directors, and M. D. Gilbert, Secretary. The office of the company was located in Mound City. Its southern terminus was to be at Mound City, while its northeastern was to be at Yincennes, Ind. The road was surveyed, located and the contract for building let. In some of the counties through which it ran considerable grading was done. For a time it promised success; but stringency in money, and other difficulties, delayed its progress until the civil war put an end to further efforts. In 1874, a new charter was obtained, the name changed to Cairo & Vincennes Railroad, and as such was built.
Among the early enterprises inaugurated by the Emporium Company was the building of the Marine Railway. They were located at the south end of Rawlings' reservation, and early in 1857, Mr. Robert Calvin, from Ohio, had the contract for grading the river bank preparatory to building the ways. After this contract was completed, Calvin graded the wharf, and did much other work for the company. He soon after repaired to a farm near Caledonia, where he still lives, enjoying the fruits of his labor and the beauties of granger life. Samuel T. Hambleton, of Cincinnati, Ohio, had full charge of the construction, and no man in the country was better qualified. Familiar with all the details of a work of that kind, he possessed much practical sense, with a genial happy disposition, made him a favorite with all, and especially with the large force of men he worked upon the ways. As was said, the immense wheels and all the machinery was molded at the Mound City Foundry, but not • until 1859 were they completed. The first boat that was taken from the river and drawn upon the ways was the R. H. W. Hill, a large, side wheel cotton boat, that ran between Memphis and New Orleans. To see the machinery work, and to see a boat drawing so much water and weighing so much gently lifted from the water and left upon cradles, high and dry, to those who had never seen it done, was an interesting sight. This, coupled with the desire that it might be accomplished safely, upon which depended the success of the ways and the interest of the city, for the time being, at all events, caused a large number of people to be present while the boat was being taken out. Everything worked like clockwork. The engineer, the men at the different posts assigned them, the cradles and the boat, all moved together, and the success of hauling out one of the largest steamers upon the river was accomplished, and Capt. Sam Hambleton was happy, and so was everybody else; if they were not at that time, an hour later they were. Tradition breaks a bottle of Champaign on a new boat when launched, and on an old boat when pulled out on new ways; that is one of the traditions which has continued to be observed to the present day. Upon this occasion it was not an exception. Nick Longworth's (we do not think the old man was dead then) sparkling Catawba flowed free and copiously. Upon the command of Captain Sam, toasts were drunk, speeches were made and the entire population were happy. The happy feeling was not confined to the Catawba, but those who took ice water felt the inspiration. It was quite a day for the marine ways and for Mound City.
Soon after this, Capt. Sam Hambleton returned to Cincinnati, where he and his brother, W. L. Hambleton, owned a marine railway, and his brother William came to Mound City (but did not bring his family until 1860), and took charge of the ways at this place. The ownership of the ways passed from the Emporium Company to Hambleton, Collier & Co., W. H. Stokes, of Louisville. Ky., the company, Capt. W. L. Hambleton, one of the firm. Superintendent. No man in the country possessed the resources and qualifications for the position as did Capt. Bill Hambleton. As a special notice will be given him in this history, we shall only refer to him in connection with the marine ways, of which he had charge from 1859 until he died in 1883 — a period of twenty-four years. The ways worked, constantly, a large force of men, from their completion until the civil war came. The position of Mound City, and of her marine railway, attracted the attention of (he Government. The three wooden gunboats had been constructed at Cincinnati, and had come to Mound City and anchored out in the river They were the acorns from which grew the great Mississippi Squadron. The Government leased the marine ways, paying $40, 000 a year, retaining Capt. W. L. Hambleton in charge. Before, however, Hambleton, Collier & Co. , by contract with the Government, built three ironclad gunboats, the Cincinnati, the Carondelet and the Mound City. After that, the Government made gunboats of steamboats, and repaired, when needed, the boats belonging to the squadron, working 1,500 men. On the 1st day of July, 1863, the Government took possession of the property fronting the river, known as Rawlings' reservation, for a navy station, together with the Mound City Railroad depot, that stood on the reservation. A lease was given the Government to this reservation by the city, and the depot that belonged to the Emporium Company was sold to the Government, after which the Mound City Railroad depot was built on the corner of Main street and Railroad avenue, where it now stands. Immediately after the leasing of the reservation, the entire Mississippi Squadron moved to Mound City, Admiral D. D. Porter in command, while Capt. A. M. Pennock had command of the navy yard, and of the large force of mechanics and laborers. More than a thousand men were under the control of William H. Faukner, the chief Steam Engineer, and Romeo Friganza, Naval Constructor. It was under their supervision extensive improvements were made; workshops, ordnance and office buildings. During the years 1863, 1864 and 1865, the squadron was increased from twentyfour gunboats in 1863, to 100 gunboats, 22 transports, 32 mortars and 8 tugs in 1865. In this year, the establishment of a navy yard in the West seemed to be favored by the naval officers at this place, and by the Navy Department. Cairo desired the station and the navy yard, if established. Carondelet, below St. Louis, desired the same. Mound City had the station, and wanted the navy yard. But Congress was the making power; Congress, therefore, must be appealed to. To see and talk to Congress, Cairo sent, as her representative, Col. S. Staats Taylor and Gen. Isum N. Haynie. Blow, of Carondelet, was a Member of Congress, and aided by Gen. Frank Blair, did the talking for Carondelet. Mound City sent Dr. N. R. Casey to tell of the superior advantages of Mound City as a location for a permanent navy yard. As somebody has said, " they met at the hatter's." The station was not moved from Mound City, and had Congress believed a navy yard in the West a good thing to have, Mound City would have received the location. In 1865, Admiral Porter was ordered East, and Admiral Lee took command, followed by Commodore Livingston; he was relieved by Commodore Poor; in 1867 came Commodore Schank; he was followed by Commodore Walk, who remained until 1869, when Commodore Goldsboro relieved him, and he was relieved in 1870 by Capt. Thompson, who remained in command until 1873. On the 1st day of July, 1874, the navy department having no further use for the navy station at Mound City, the Secretary, Mr. Robeson, discontinued it, the Government releasing the lease, and turned the buildings and improvements over to the city. When the war was over, the Government turned the marine ways over to the owners, Capt. W. L. Hambleton, Superintendent. In 1880, his brother, Capt. Sam T. Hambleton, came and superintended the work about the yard; he continued to do so until 1882, when he began to have trouble with his heart; he returned to his home in Cincinnati, when, a few weeks later, a noble man passed from earth, surrounded by his family and friends. While he was never a resident of Mound City, he had been identified with it for twenty-five years, and was known and loved by all the inhabitants. Capt. W. L. Hambleton continued in charge of the ways until he died, which took place in February, 1883. They are now in possession of Capt. W. P. Halliday, of Cairo.
The Emporium Company, in 1857, built the stone foundation for twelve buildings on the riverfront, known as Union Block, but in June, 1858, they sold lots and foundations to individuals — parties from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. These parties jointly, in the years 1858 and 1859, built the block of the best of brick made above the city limits, on the Ohio River. Each of the buildings was twenty-five feet by eighty feet, and three stories high. The third stories of the two south buildings were thrown together and finished in good style, and called Stokes Hall. The latter is forty-six feet by eighty feet, now known as the Opera House. Theatricals, dances, conventions, and, since the destruction of the court house by fire in 1879, Circuit Courts are held in it. Until the civil war, the building was unoccupied. The Government, in 1861, took possession of it, and from that time until after the close of the war, it was the largest United States hospital in the West. The wounded from the battle of Belmont were the first admitted. After the battle of Shiloh, 2,200 wounded and sick were provided for. Among the surgeons in charge were Dr. Franklin, of St. Louis, Dr. H. Wardner, now in charge of the insane asylum at Anna, 111., and others, while it required fifteen or twenty Assistant Surgeons to attend the sick and wounded, who came from various parts of the country. The present location of none of them are known, but Dr. C. W. Dunning, of Cairo, and Dr. N. R. Casey, of Mound City.
Soon after the battle of Shiloh, the hospital, full of sick and wounded, with a hundred or more attaches, several hundred strangers in the city, visiting and looking after wounded and sick friends, sensational reports were frequent. Rebels had been seen in large numbers on the opposite bank of the river, in Kentucky; a large body of rebels had crossed the Mississippi at Commerce, all looking to a raid on Mound City, the main object being to destroy the marine ways, where the Government was repairing and fitting out so many gunboats and transports. This gave color, and to many positive belief, that the stories circulated were not only reasonable but true. During one of these exciting days, the surgeon in charge of the hospital was called away, to be gone twenty-four hours. Before leaving, he turned the hospital and all his authority over to Dr. Charlie Vail until his return. Dr. Vail was a young man of much promise as a surgeon and physician, with a large amount of social qualities. The night the Chief Surgeon left, Dr. Vail attended a wine supper — plenty of eating and plenty of wine, drinking was indulged in, followed, of course, by patriotic songs and patriotic speeches. This patriotic feast was indulged in until after midnight, when Vail reached his headquarters. By that time he concluded he would at once put down the rebellion by a grand move upon the enemy; but to do so ho must have more troops. After first ordering out all persons attached to the hospital, he summoned one Tom Clarke, who was a sort of a private detective — that is, would follow the troops down into Missouri or Kentucky and return with some old buggies and horses. To Clarke Vail issued an order, first making him Commander of the citizens' forces, with authority to press at once into the service all able-bodied residents in the place. Clark arrayed himself with a cavalry sword and scabbard. With sword drawn and scabbard thumping the sidewalk, with aids at his heels, he proceeded to rouse the people and order them to the front of the hospital; that strife and carnage was less than a mile away. People turned out pell-mell — some alarmed, and some to see what was going on. When they got in front of the hospital, Clarke mustered them into the service for the night. Many did not like this coercive business, and sent for N. R. Casey, the Mayor; they wanted to be relieved. The Mayor went He found all the space in front of the hospital, to the river, covered with men, armed with all sorts of deadly weapons. Near the Chief Surgeon's office he met Dr. Vail, Commander-in-chief. Upon asking him what all this meant, Vail's reply was, "Casey, make 'em a speech — make 'em a speech." The Mayor saw the Doctor retire for the night, and then dismissed his army, and quiet prevailed. Dr. Vail removed to Wisconsin after the war, and some years ago his bright, happy spirit passed from earth.
Those who died at the hospital were buried on the river bank, just above the city, and some farther up, near old America. After the close of the war, the Government purchased ten acres of ground, three quarters of a mile west of Mound City, for a national cemetery, and moved all who died or were killed at Columbus, Belmont, Cairo, Commerce, Paducah and Mound City, and buried their remains in this ten-acre plot of ground, and when counted they numbered 5,555. Congress made provision for the improvement of the place. It was soon enclosed with an iron fence. Evergreens, shade trees and flowers were planted; marble head-boards at each grave; a comfortable brick lodge built for the Superintendent, and a brick rostrum, from which orators address the great multitudes of people who visit the spot every 30th of May to decorate the graves of the dead soldiers. In 1874, N. R. Casey, then a member of the Legislature, secured the passage of a bill appropriating, out of the State Treasury, 125,000 to build a monument at this national cemetery. The Governor appointed, as Commissioners to carry out the provisions of the bill, Capt. W. L. Hambleton, of Mound City, Jonathan C. Willis, of Metropolis, and Dr. Looney, of Vienna, and in 1875 the monument was completed, standing seventy-two feet high from its foundation.
Congress, at its last session, appropriated $15,000 to build a gravel road from the landing on the Ohio River to the cemetery, which will soon be completed. Joe P. Roberts, Esq., at the solicitation of many of the citizens, went to Washington City, and when he stated to our Member of Congress, Hon. John R. Thomas, the necessity of the road, Capt. Thomas at once introduced a bill appropriating $25,000. That bill passed the House. The Senate amended it by making it $15,000. The House concurred, and it became a law.
After the war, the building that had so long been used for United States Hospital, in which had suffered and died so many brave men, where the Sisters of the Holy Cross had come as ministering angels early, and stayed until the last sick and wounded had gone was vacated. For a long time it stood idle, as if taking a rest after its long occupancy of suffering and distress. Its gloomy walls seemed to tell the sad story of the part it took in the rebellion. But the war was over, and something else must be done. Three of the south buildings were constructed into a hotel, and called the Stokes House, and was kept by different persons; among them, Capt. F. A. Fair, who came to Mound City in 1856, and did the brick work on the first brick house built in Mound City, in ] 856 and 1857, afterward owned and kept the wharf-boat, and still resides in Mound City. Mrs. Van Ostran at one time kept the Stokes House, having for many years kept a boarding-house in Mound City. She had great energy, and the general verdict was, she knew how to keep a hotel. She died while proprietress of the hotel. It is now kept by Mr. McClenan, a gentlemanly proprietor, kept in first-class style, and called the Mound City Hotel. W. H. Stokes, of Louisville, before his death, became owner of the block, and at his administrator's sale the buildings were bought by persons of Mound City, Mr. G. F. Meyer being the largest purchaser, after which he took down three of the buildings on the north end, out of which he built his extensive and elegant storehouse building, on the corner of Walnut and Main streets. The remaining part of the block, not occupied for hotel, is being rapidly arranged for a large furniture factory. The factory has already been incorporated, with Mr. Ellis, of Indiana, G, F. Meyer, and Ferd Wehrfritz, of Mound City, incorporators.