Mound City, in the southeast part of the county on the banks of the Ohio, is
the county seat. Situated in the flood plain of the Ohio River, it is
protected from flood waters by huge levees. The city is about one and
one-half miles long and one-half mile wide.
When the city was first settled, it was the opinion of most of the residents that the Ohio River would never flood the site. However, in the spring of 1858 the question was answered. In June of that year, the river rose until it was some two or three feet deep over the town. The mounds were not covered. Again in 1862 the new city was likewise flooded. This led the authorities and the people of the city to contemplate building a levee. Finally it was decided to do so. Bonds bearing ten percent interest to run for ten years were issued to pay for the levee and a contract was let to George W. Carter, Alexander Frazier and Timothy Booth to do the work for thirty cents per cubic yard. Payment was to be in city bonds. Late in 1866 this first levee was completed. Its length was three miles.
The new levee was to be immediately tested, for in the spring of 1867, the Ohio again overflowed its banks and the levee was soon surrounded. Fears were at once expressed that from the newness of the levee it might not be able to withstand the pressure of the water without the town. They were soon realized for in the northwest part of the levee a break fifty feet wide occurred. The water rushed into the city with great and forceful rapidity, yet it required twenty hours for the level within the town to reach the level of that without. There was no particular damage to the property for the water attained a depth of approximately three feet. After the water receded, examination of the break revealed the fact that several old logs had been placed in the levee in the building of it. They were the cause of the break.
Following this flood another contract, this time to build the levee broader at the base and raise its height, was made with A. J. Dougherty and George A. Lounsberry. These men were also paid in city bonds and the total bonded indebtedness for levee purposes was $47,500. These gentlemen proceeded to fill their contract and the levee was strong enough to withstand the floods which came upon it in the following years. However, after the floods of 1897, 1912-13, and 1928 the levees were raised to greater heights and made broader to withstand possible floods.
After the building of the Dougherty-Lounsberry levee, which was completed in 1868, no flood water entered the city until January 1937. That year in an unprecedented winter flood the Ohio rose to heights never before conceived of and in spite of a levee at that time 20 feet above flood stage the river rose until the levee was topped and again through the northwest part of the levee the town was flooded. Following this flood a larger levee was erected or rather the existing levees were strengthened and made both wider and higher to protect the town. Only time will tell whether at last "Ol’ Man River" is licked. A chapter dealing with the 1937 flood will be found in this book.
Known in the early days of river travel as the "Mounds" because of the prehistoric mounds found there. Mound City had a small settlement because of its natural advantages in those days of river travel, as a trading point. Its growth was interrupted several times, yet men persisted in their efforts to build here. When the steamboats began to ply the rivers, it became a favorite harbor with steamboatmen and was considered the head of navigation during periods of low water or when the upper river was frozen over. Many interesting anecdotes have been preserved for us about the very early days, but space does not permit their telling.
In 1854, Gen. Moses M. Rawlings decided to lay out a city at "The Mounds." He owned about 85 acres of land and laid out the lower part of the city in town lots and began to sell them to settlers. Realizing the advantage of a railroad to his new city he secured the right of way and built, out of his own means, a railroad connecting Mound City, for that is what he called it, with the I. C. at what is now the city of Mounds. This was known as the Mound City Railroad and was completed in 1856. The point where the road connected with the I. C. was known as "The Mounds Junction." At the time of the building of this railroad there were only some dozen or so houses in Mound City.
In 1855 some men in Cincinnati, Ohio, organized a company under the name of
the Emporium Real Estate and Manufacturing Company for the purpose of
establishing a great city somewhere on the banks of the Lower Ohio River.
After securing about $1,500,000 of capital they came to Mound City and
bought from Gen. Rawlings the land north of and adjacent to his development,
laid it off in streets and lots, and proceeded to sell lots at both public
auction and private sale. They named their development EMPORIUM CITY. They
bought the Mound City Railroad from Gen. Rawlings. Through their operations
a great boom took place. Lots sold for as much as $130 per front foot. Under
the auspices of this company, a pottery and a large foundry were erected.
After the erection of the foundry the Emporium Company constructed the
MARINE WAYS, but soon disposed of them to another firm. Houses were rapidly
built both for sale and for rent. Soon the new city was a thriving place. In
1857 Emporium City and Mound City were incorporated under the name Mound
The Emporium Company, in 1857, built the stone foundations for twelve warehouse buildings on the river front. Being unable to complete the buildings, the company in June 1858; sold the lots and foundations to private individuals. These jointly in the years 1858 and '59 built the block of buildings. The material used was brick, the best made in the pottery north of the city limits on the Ohio River. The buildings were joined together and each was 25 by 80 feet and three stories high. The third floors of the two south buildings were not separated but were thrown together and finished for a sort of community hall and called "Stokes Hall." Theatricals, dances, conventions, and court have been held in this hall.
In 1865 an election to determine whether or not to move the county seat from Caledonia to Mound City was authorized by the State Legislature. The election was held on May 13, 1866, and Mound City won. However, the residents of Caledonia and their proponents claimed that the soldiers and sailors stationed at Mound City had voted and challenged the legality of the change in the courts. The matter dragged on as only matters can in our courts with one delay after another and without any decision being rendered until 1868. Tradition has it that a verdict never was rendered by the court until George W. Carter, President of the Emporium Company at that time, and being vexed by such delay, hired some ox carts and descended on Caledonia at midnight, subtracted the records from the courthouse by stealth and brought them to Mound City. Great was the consternation in Caledonia next day when it was discovered that the records of the county were missing and greater the chagrin of the citizens when it was discovered that while they slept the enemy had come and borne them away. From that day to this Mound City has remained the county seat though there have been some sporadic efforts for another change. In 1912 a beautiful and commodious courthouse and a modern jail were built in Washington Square which had been set apart at the laying out of the city by the Emporium Company for the county seat.
Constructed in 1912, this two-story building houses the county offices. The second floor consists of a courtroom and small offices, with the first floor being occupied by the elective officials. Shown at the left is a portion of the jail, constructed at the same time.
Now occupied by the Ladoga Canning Company, this building, one of the largest in Pulaski county, was used during the Civil War as a military hospital, being occupied by 2,200 sick and wounded after the Battle of Shiloh. Since the war it has been used variously as a hotel, courthouse, stave mill, furniture factory and now as a canning plant.
After the Civil War private industrialists saw opportunity at Mound City especially in timbering and woodworking activities. As a result a number of saw mills, a furniture factory and other establishments were built. These furnished employment to large numbers of men and the town grew and prospered. Eventually the timber resources were so depleted that most of these enterprises were moved away or abandoned. Some of them burned and were not rebuilt. This has gone on until now there are only four industries left, namely, a stave mill, a veneer and basket mill, a vegetable cannery and the Marine Ways. This latter caught fire in 1942 and the old part of it which had been in service since before the Civil War was destroyed.
In 1857 a school house, wooden construction, was erected on Walnut Street. It was built by subscription. General Rawlings gave the lot and also $50.00. The building was unpretentious but was large enough to hold all the children of the city. However, a school had been taught before the building of this house in a small building located on the alley between Poplar and Walnut Streets south of where Ed. Beaver's store now stands. A young man named Samuel P. Steel from Pennsylvania was the first teacher and he continued to teach in Mound City for a number of years. At no time since this small beginning have the people of this community failed to appreciate the need of adequate schools. In 1879 a great fire occurred in Mound City which burned the Navy Yard buildings, the courthouse, most of the business section, much of the residences and the public school building. The directors immediately made arrangements for other quarters and school was continued almost uninterrupted.
Sunday schools, called Sabbath schools in those days, were organized as
early as 1857 before there was a church organization of any kind. That same
year a temperance society was organized.
In the year 1857 the Methodist Episcopal Church of Mound City was organized as part of the Cairo Circuit. Rev. R. H. Manier, pastor. As long as the church was a part of the Cairo circuit, the records were not kept at Mound City. However, the organization prospered so that in 1865 it was elevated to a station and Rev. J. P. Dew, sent by the Southern Illinois Conference, as pastor. It continued as a station until September, 1880, when it became part of the Mound City Circuit embracing Mound City and Villa Ridge churches. Later, it separated, and while joined with Mounds at one time, is now a church with a pastor of its own.
As early as 1857 several Catholic families lived in Mound City but there was no Church organization of any kind. A priest came from Cairo once or twice monthly and held services but it was not until 1863 that the Catholics of Mound City had a church of their own. The building was located on High Street and extended back to Diamond Street where Hosea Dunlap now lives. The building, which rejoiced the hearts of the parishioners was 25 by 56 feet and elegantly finished and furnished. The Emporium Company gave the lot and the people in various ways raised the money to pay for the building. The Church was named St. Mary's from the very beginning. A Father Moor was the first priest in charge. The present commodious structure located on the corner of South Fourth and Walnut Streets was erected in 1892, and has since served. It was beautifully restored after the 1937 flood.
In the year of 1907, the Rev. J. B. Kelly held a revival meeting in the Blum Block. This meeting resulted in a number of conversions. Immediately following the close of the meeting the First Baptist Church of Mound City was organized. The church continued to worship in the Blum building until 1911. Under the leadership of the pastor, the Rev. Allen Ferrill, the present building was erected by Contractor D. D. Harris. In 1920 the church was dedicated free from all indebtedness. The dedicatory sermon was preached by the Rev. W. P. Throgmorton, D.D., who was an outstanding leader among Baptists. Rev. B. F. Rodman, secretary of The Illinois Baptist State Association, and State Evangelist H. C. Mitchell took part in the services. The Rev. H. E. Lockard was pastor at that time.
The church did not have a parsonage until 1921 at which time a five room house was purchased at 115 Pearl Street. The Rev. W. J. Ward was the first pastor to occupy the property. This place was used as a parsonage until 1940. It was sold and property adjoining the church on High Street was purchased.
While a complete record of the membership is not available, the records that are available show that more than 600 persons have become members. The following ministers have served as pastors: J. B. Kelly, E. H. Cunningham, Allen Ferrill, S. H. Allen, J. Grimm, C. R. Reeves, H. E. Lockard, W. J. Ward, A. H. Dace, H. B. Atherton, Wm. Shelton, B. E. Overby, J. L. Wall, and Robert E. Knight.
In 1862 Dr. Stephen J. McMaster, an Episcopalian priest became Chaplain of the U. S. Government Hospital at Mound City. A chapel was fitted up in the hospital building where services were held and were attended not only by the soldiers in the hospital but also by the people. In 1863, Dr. Isaac P. Labough became rector of the Episcopal church in Cairo and desired to hold services in Mound City. The Methodists tendered him the use of their house of worship and he held services there for some time. In 1865 Rev. John Foster held services in the school house. During the year 1866 Rev. William Britton became pastor at Mound City and during this year the house of worship of the Episcopalian Church at Mound City was erected and dedicated, "St. Peter's".
National Cemetery, in which lie the bodies of approximately 5000 soldier, sailor and marine dead, is a beautifully maintained spot in Pulaski county. It was established in 1864, and because of difficulties in removing bodies from other resting places to the National shrine, nearly half of the number buried there are unknown. A large granite shaft stands in the center of the plot as a memorial to those dying in service of their country.
The inscription on an antique gun near the northeast corner of the speaker's stand in the National Cemetery tells much in few words.
UNITED STATES NATIONAL
It will be noted from the above inscription that more than half the original
inhabitants of this silent city of the dead were unknown at the time of
interment. These were Civil War soldiers and sailors who were unidentified
at time of burial. It came about this wise.
During the Civil War, the soldiers and sailors who died in the Military Hospital at Mound City were buried in different places. Some of them, suffering from small pox, were kept isolated together on covered barges moored to the Kentucky shore and were buried as soon as possible after death. When the Cemetery was established the bodies of these men were removed from the original places of internment and buried in here. In many instances it was impossible to find out just who the individual had been. Consequently there is a larger percentage of unknown dead buried here in proportion to the known.
Sometime before 1843 a village was platted on the banks of the Ohio River about 12 miles from its mouth and named North Caledonia. A man named Justus Post was the proprietor of the town and for some reason never recorded the plat. It remained only a paper town until 1843 at the formation of Pulaski County it was chosen by the County Commissioners as the county seat. At that time a few blocks of the paper town were given to the county as a seat of justice and the plat of these blocks was recorded. This village never attained a large size possibly 200 being the largest number of people who ever lived there at any one time. It remained the county seat until about 1868 when the county seat was removed to Mound City. The village immediately fell into decay and ruin.
Incorporated in the present village of Olmsted is the old village of North
Caledonia, commonly known as Caledonia. This is that part of Olmsted that
lies on the hill near the river. It was platted sometime before the year
1843 but the plat was not recorded. Justus Post, one of the leading citizens
of that day, was the Proprietor. In 1843, when Pulaski County was formed,
Caledonia was chosen as the "Seat of Justice" and Justus Post gave the
county the land for the site of the courthouse and jail. Only this portion
of the plat of the village is on record. The village of Caledonia continued
as the county seat of Pulaski County until 1868 when the county seat was
moved to Mound City.
In this part of the village of Olmsted is located an old house which was built by Justus Post about 1828 for his residence. Here he lived until his death sometime in 1846. The old house still continues to do duty as a residence though its builder has long been gone.
It was here that Mr. Post was living when he penned the following interesting document.
To All Persons Whom It May Concern:
Know ye the Nancy, the bearer hereof, a colored woman aged about twenty eight years, belonging to me, and who has been a servant in my family, during the period of about twenty years last past, is this day by these presents emancipated and liberated from any future and all subsequent involuntary servitude, and is at entire liberty to hereafter go, do, and act for herself.
In witness whereof I hereby subscribe my name and affix my seal at Caledonia in the County of Alexander and State of Illinois, this fifth day of May, A. D. 1837.
Signed, sealed and delivered in presence of
E. B. Clemson
Justus Post SEAL
Numerous efforts were made to build the "City of Dreams" on the high banks of the Ohio River. The first such effort within the territory of what is now Pulaski County was the Town of America. Co-incident with this attempt was the paper town of Trinity, located at the mouth of Cache River, which was platted on an extensive scale but never amounted to any more than a frontier trading post and trans-shipping point at the beginning of the steamboating age.
CALEDONIA which was located about a half-mile down stream from the limits of the present village of Olmsted was another such. Here, on a beautiful high bank of the Ohio, another rather ambitious town was platted but failed because of the difficulty of loading and unloading goods on the river boats caused by inaccessibility to the river. The proprietors had failed to take into account the sheerness of the banks and the narrowness of the bayou leading down to the river.
NAPOLEON, located at the site of the
present Dam 53, passed into oblivion before it became more than a name.
North Caledonia lived, became the first Seat of Justice for Pulaski County,
declined when the County Seat was removed but survived and became a part of
the present thriving village of Olmsted.
All the romantic figures of the early days of the county moved through North Caledonia. Many of the important personages in the early years of the State visited this oldest of the present villages of the county. Abraham Lincoln, according to local legends, visited the little city and practiced law within the walls of the old brick courthouse, the remains of which are still to be seen atop the hill just where the road turns down to the river.
In the early years this was an important shipping point both as regards the receiving and the shipping of goods. With a good landing, easy access to the river, and an elevation high above flood water the community bade fair to become an important center. Roads led into the interior over which the farmers of that day came with their produce. In those days of slow travel the distance from market precluded the shipment of any perishable commodities. Consequently the principal outgoing items of commerce consisted of livestock, grain, and poultry. From as far as Jonesboro the farmers came with these commodities for sale and shipment to the markets of the south. So many chickens were shipped that the road to Jonesboro acquired the name of the "Chicken Road" and tradition has it that feathers from the birds marked out the entire course of the road. The coming of the railroads put an end to this phase in the economic life of the county and the removal of the county seat plunged the old town into shadows. Her glories dimmed but the hardy spirit within the breasts of her citizens precluded the abandonment of the town and she lived on until she lost her identity in the corporate name of OLMSTED.
After the construction of the N. Y. C. R. R., Rev. E. B. Olmsted, who owned
about 200 acres, platted a village adjacent to North Caledonia and the
railroad and called it OLMSTED, sometimes nowadays spelled Olmstead. Lots
were sold and the village grew as an agricultural shipping and trading
center until about 1915 when the Sinclair Refining Co. built a Fuller's
Earth plant on the south part of the site of North Caledonia and begun to
mine and refine Fuller's Earth for industrial purposes. Soon the Standard
Oil Co. acquired property and erected a plant just south of the Sinclair
plant. Since that time this industrial activity has contributed much to the
development of this village. However, the Standard Oil plant ceased to
operate in 1939 and the property has since lain idle. It has been sold by
About 1886 a move was started to incorporate the village and succeeded. The incorporation included the villages of Olmsted and North Caledonia under the name OLMSTED. The population of this village is 560 (Census 1930).
In 1818, Dr. Wm. P. Alexander, agent for James Riddle, Henry Bechtle and
Thomas Sloo of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Stephen and Henry Rector of St. Louis,
Mo., laid out a town some 12 miles above the mouth of the Ohio River with
much ceremony. When Alexander County was formed in 1819 Dr. Alexander, for
whom the new county was named, succeeded in having the new town chosen as
the county seat. In 1821, the State Legislature, by special act incorporated
the "Town of America" as a town.
In 1818, a town was platted on the Ohio River and named America. Its proprietors were Henry Bechtle and William M. Alexander. Both at that time were citizens of Kentucky and both had visions of building a large city on the Illinois side of the Ohio. Mr. Alexander acted as agent for Mr. Bechtle and looked after all of the business of the partnership. He soon became influential in the new State and when Alexander County was formed in 1819 he was accorded the honor of having it named after himself. He also succeeded in getting his new town named as the "Seat of Justice". Thus America became the first county seat of Alexander County.
In 1821 Dr. Alexander, for he was an M. D., succeeded in getting his town incorporated as a town by a special act of the Illinois Legislature. The town was located about three miles upstream from where Mound City now stands, near where Otto Creek empties into the Ohio.
Today the site of the Town of America is in farm land and the casual visitor would never suspect that a town once was there. In the 1820's a different scene would have been presented. Houses and store buildings, a courthouse and a jail, a cemetery, and streets would have been in evidence. Now these are all gone and only a few farmhouses, which have replaced the buildings of the town, are to be seen. Shortly after the incorporation of the Town it was discovered that a large sandbar in the river effectually prevented the landing of steamboats except during high water. This was a difficulty which the town was unable to overcome.
In 1835 the county seat of Alexander County was removed from America to Unity. This removal caused a law suit which, so far as any one now living knows, was never settled. In 1825 the Trustees of the Town of America had made an agreement with the County Commissioners to surrender $1150 worth of County Orders, which they held for the Town of America, in return for which the Commissioners agreed that the Seat of Justice should never be moved from the Town of America. In event the County Seat should ever be moved it was agreed that the debt of $1150 should be renewed in favor of the Town and bear interest from the date of such removal. In 1835 the county seat was moved to Unity. After vainly trying to persuade the County Commissioners to keep the agreement of their predecessors in office the Trustees of the Town of America, finally, 1837, appropriated $500 to pay the expenses of a suit to recover the money, employed attorneys, and began suit. In May, 1838, the County Commissioners appointed a committee to employ counsel, subpoena witnesses, and otherwise attend in the suit of the Trustees of the Town of America. These are the last entries in the records in regard to the matter. It is unknown today whether or not it was ever paid. If not and the debt could still be collected under the terms of the agreement it would require millions to liquidate the claim.
After the removal of the county seat in 1835 the town fell into rapid decline finally reverting to farmland. It was not, however, until 1867 that the Act of Incorporation was vacated by Act of the State Legislature.
There is at present and has been since the building of the present N. Y. C. R. R. in the 1870's a depot and postoffice some one and one-half miles west of the old town site called after it "America". However, the postoffice has been discontinued — the final chapter in the death of a city which early in history showed much promise.
A detailed story of the founding and growth of the city of Mounds would read
like a chapter out of the Arabian Nights. One day the Forest Primeval with
huge oak, walnut, ash, poplar, hickory, pecan, gun, beech, and other trees
standing in all their glory and the next a small village begun beside the
railroad tracks. A great grove of beeches in the vicinity caused the
proprietor to give the new city the name of Beechwood. In a few years, due
to the activities of the I. C. Railroad, a thriving little city stood where
once the deer had ranged and the wolf had raised his raucous howl.
In 1889 when the railroad bridge across the Ohio River at Cairo was being built, the Illinois Central Railroad Company began the construction of a division terminal three miles west of Mound City where the railroad to the latter place joined the main line of the I. C. Capt. N. B. Thistlewood saw the need for a village to house the employees of the Railroad Company and laid out a small tract of land in streets and lots and sold the lots to those employees. Homes were built on those lots. He called the original village BEECHWOOD but the Railroad Company knew the place as Mound City Junction. This name was soon changed to that of MOUNDS. As the activities of the railroad enlarged the number of employees was increased and more lots were laid out and sold. The village continued to grow until the terminal was discontinued by the Railroad Company in 1931.
For three decades, 1890 to 1920, while the railroads were enjoying their greatest prosperity and for a fourth, 1920 to 1930, when rail revenues fell off and adjustments were being made and were in the making, Mounds was a little Chicago. Retail businesses of all kinds prospered due to the large payrolls. Modern school buildings were erected. Comfortable homes were built by many of the citizens. The Baptists, Methodists, and Catholics erected church buildings consonant with their congregations. Mounds presented to the world the face of a prosperous, bustling little city. But alas, the adjustment being made by the I. C. led that railroad, in 1931, to discontinue the division terminal with its busy yards and shops and this city, whose prosperity was founded on the employment of its citizens by the railroad, fell on evil days. Unemployment mounted, business declined, adjustments had to be made. With unfaltering courage the citizens faced the situation. Gloomy as the future appeared they went to work to rebuild as best they could the prosperity of their community. The merchants of the place have attracted a large agricultural trade from the surrounding area and the city bids fair to prosper in spite of the loss of the railroad terminal. This spirit of self-reliance and individual enterprise will build up any community, city, or nation.
The percentage of college graduates among the younger adults is high. The educational level of the city is consequently high. With an intelligent, educated citizenry the future of this city is full of promise. There should be developed at Mounds in the next few years a sound enduring prosperity engineered and built up by its own people.
The population of the city of Mounds, for it is under city organization that it operates, is 2200. Since the discontinuance of the railroad division terminal the employees who owned their homes in Mounds continue in many instances to live there and work elsewhere. The merchants of the place have attracted a large agricultural trade from the surrounding area and the city of Mounds bids fair to prosper in spite of the cutting off of the rail revenues.
The village of New Grand Chain was laid out by Joseph W. Gaunt, Warner K. Bartleson, and David Porter. The plat was recorded October 31, 1872. A village called Grand Chain was laid out just north of where the present village of New Grand Chain stands but there is no record of its plat. Suffice it to say that Grand Chain failed to survive the competition of its new namesake.
A village called CACHETON was laid out November 13, 1873, as a town by John Butler. It was vacated by law on February 17, 1875. A small settlement continued at the place and a post office called OAKTOWN stood near the railroad. This situation continued until the year 1905 when W. N. Moyers platted a village for an industrial concern, Main Bros. Box and Lumber Co., which included the old site of Cacheton. The village stands where the N. Y. C. R. R. and the Joppa Branch of the C. & E. I. R. R. cross in the northeast corner of the county. Due to the fact that this section of the state is known as "Little Egypt" and has several other place names of Egyptian origin Main Bros. chose to call their new town KARNAK. For several years the proprietors refused to sell any lots in the village but in recent years have departed from that practice. Located on two railroads and within a short distance of the river as well as having a hardsurfaced road outlet, the village enjoys excellent shipping facilities and is the center of a prosperous agricultural community. Main Bros. have, through the years, operated a large wood working mill there and bid fair to continue to do so in the future.
About 1840 a settlement was started by immigrants from Ohio and Pennsylvania about three miles north of the present city of Mounds. Lands were cleared, homes erected, schools and churches built, and it soon became a thriving agricultural community. When the I. C. Railroad was built in 1852 a depot was erected here. Soon thereafter the settlers began to raise fruits, strawberries, and vegetables for market. The railroad company had called the depot VILLA RIDGE. In 1866 a village was platted on the east side of the railroad. It grew rapidly in importance and soon became the largest agricultural shipping center in the county. This village has never been incorporated but the community has always been one of the best in the county. The homes are generally well constructed and well maintained and the people have high ideals of citizenship, morality, education, and religion.
During the building of the I. C. Railroad in 1852 a construction camp was built about three miles north of Villa Ridge. This was first called the "Camp in Pulaski County" by the engineer in charge in making his reports. Later he shortened the name of Camp Pulaski. A depot was erected there and called Pulaski. After the building of the road the residents of the camp began to cut cordwood to sell to the railroad and remained. In 1855, a village was laid out adjacent the railroad and platted in streets and lots. In the course of time, as the land was cleared, farming took the place of timbering activities and the village, which started as a railroad construction camp, took on permanence as the shipping and trading center of a prosperous agricultural community. The population of the village is 521.
Soon after the building of the I. C. Railroad a man named James Bell built a large saw mill near the place where the railroad crosses Cache River in the northwest part of Pulaski County. A post office was soon established there and called Ullin. Other mills were built in the surrounding bottoms at distances of from one to three miles from the Bell mill. Finally in 1858 a village was laid out on the west side of the railroad tracks and the plat recorded. The village grew and other lots were laid out on the east side of the tracks and sold. As the timber was cleared away agricultural activities began and the village became the center of an agricultural community as well as the location of an industrial enterprise of some magnitude. Finally the mill burned and Mr. Bell sold out his interests to other people who rebuilt on a smaller scale. Mill after mill has burned here but always another has been built. Timbering activities have, in recent years, decreased because of a failing source of supply and other difficulties in the industry but farming has greatly increased. About 1888 the village was incorporated as a village and has remained so. The population of the village is 625.
When the first white settlers came to this county they found an Indian camp
called Wetaug located in the northwest part of what is now Pulaski County.
The camp took its name from the Indians living there. They were an offshoot
of the Cherokee tribe who called themselves Wetaugas. The name was
transliterated into English as Wetaug. A large spring was found there, which
was probably the attraction to the Indians. The opening of this spring was
about 30 feet across and the depth of it was unknown. White men settled near
here very early. After the building of the I. C. the railroad company placed
a water tank near the spring to supply its locomotives with water. In 1856 a
village was laid out and platted, a depot built and Wetaug became the center
of the surrounding agricultural community.
The last known chief of the Wetauga Indians was called John Wetaug. His death occurred about 1820 and he was buried at Wetaug. The location of this grave is known. This is perhaps the only Indian grave in Southern Illinois of which it can be said that the white men of our time know the name of the interred. His descendants in the direct line are still among us. The Wetauga Indians all intermarried with the whites and lost their identity in that of the dominant race.
In 1896 an earthquake occurred which shook Southern Illinois. For several days after the quake the waters of the Wetaug spring were muddy and then they began to fail. It soon became necessary for the railroad company to move its water tower to Cache River to secure a water supply. For many years the spring has been only a seep with very little flow. Still the ground is always saturated with water where the spring was no matter how dry the season happens to be.
Shortly after the removal of the railroad water tower a series of fires destroyed most of the houses in the village and a large flouring mill which was located there. The mill and most of the houses were never rebuilt and this old village seems to be doomed to extinction in the course of time. The village is not incorporated.
In 1900 when the Thebes branch of the C. & E. I. Railroad was being built, W. N. Moyers laid out and platted a village in Cache River bottoms about five miles east of Wetaug for W. A. Wall of Mound City, Ill., who was the proprietor. The village was and is located on the line of the C. & E. I. The proprietor gave the new town the name of Perks in honor of a fellow citizen of Mound City. Lots were sold and a few houses, one or two frame store buildings, a charcoal kiln and one or two small saw mills were built but the village failed to grow. As the land was cleared a small farming community took form with Perks as the shipping and trading center. The population of the entire community is 363 (census 1930).
Local tradition has it that during the boyhood of Orville and Wilbur
Wright, inventors of the airplane, their father, who was a United Brethern
minister, pastored a church near where the Crossroad School stands. There is
an old log house south of Crossroads near the top of the hill on the west of
the road where the family is said to have lived during the year that the
father spent pastoring the long since disbanded church. The old log house is
a ruin and stands in a thicket of brush. The story is unsubstantiated but is
John J. Sutherland, a Congregational Minister of note, who became nationally known as a writer of popular fiction in later years, pastored the Congregational Church of Mound City during the years 1900-1904. One of the books which he wrote featured Mound City under the name of Riverview and was titled "Thence Cometh the Devil" or "A Story of Life and Love in a Little Town on the River." His daughter Jean, Mrs. Jean M. Gageby of Warm Springs, Montana, graduated from the Mound City High School in 1904 and taught in the public schools of the city during the year 1906-07.