Thursday, April 11, 2013

Those Places Thursday - Mt. Vernon, Illinois City Hall ca 1940's

This postcard rendering features the Mt. Vernon, IL City Hall ca 1940's as evidenced by the 1947 postmark.  I've seen a number of postcard views picturing this same building, but I particularly like this one as it features old cars, a man walking up the front steps and you can see the bay doors open on the side street where the fire engines exited.  I remember this building very well from my childhood as I lived quite close, just a couple of blocks away on North Street and walked passed City Hall often.  Grigg's Market was just across the street where my Mother did much of the family's grocery shopping.



Mt. Vernon was such a wonderful place to grow up as a child with it's small hometown feel. You could do just about everything on the town square; get a haircut, go to the bank, shop at the Five and Dime store or go to the movies.  Much has changed though, and like many small towns across America, Mt. Vernon's downtown is much different today from my childhood memories.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Those Places Thursday - Mt. Vernon, IL Reservoir

These two early 1900's postcards show what is referred to as the "New Reservoir" of Mt. Vernon, Ill.  Postcard number one was postmarked July 5, 1909 and features a horse and buggy crossing over the spillway of the reservoir.



The back was addressed to Mrs. J. G. Kramer, 1110 Powell Av, Evansville, Ind. and appears to have been from a daughter.

"Dear Folks, Am having a fine time.  All o.k.  Was talking to papa this a,m. over the phone,  Hope you all are having a nice time.  _____  said not to look for me till you see me.  Will write later.  Please write soon.  Love to all."



The second postcard, which shows the bridge and driveway over the new reservoir (in color), was postmarked May 29, 1914 and sent to Miss Bertha Zinc in Centralia, Illinois from Lilly E. Johnson,



"Dear Bertha:  How is everyone?  Would sure love to see you again.  Hazel Hester was in Mt. V. this week. I had quite a chat with her.  I have been working for a long time.  Like my position fine.  pardon my delay? and not forget to write to your old friend."




According to Thomas Puckett in "Mt. Vernon  A Pictorial History" there were three reservoirs in Mt. Vernon.    Number one was a small reservoir that held a capacity of about 10 million gallons of water and was formed by building a dam  across a small ravine on the west side of the city.  Another reservoir was built in 1893 across Casey Fork Creek north of town on Tolle road with a small, steam-pumping station on the creek bank.  The city's third reservoir , the "new reservoir" was built on the property of the Strattan family and is now known as Jaycee Lake.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Those Places Thursday - Jefferson County Courthouse x 5 - Mt. Vernon, Illinois


Most people who are from, or who have lived in, Jefferson County, Illinois know a little something about the County Courthouse located in the town square in Mt. Vernon.  In the nearly two-hundred year history of the Mt. Vernon/Jefferson County area there have actually been five courthouses constructed throughout these two centuries.  The first, a log building 18 feet by 20 feet by 13 feet high, was erected in 1819 for a total  of $160.00 by John Sanders.  

That building soon became obsolete and in 1821 county commissioners contracted for a second building to be built.  That courthouse was not actually completed until 1829 by builder McBride.  The building was made of brick, twenty by thirty feet, two stories high and the total cost was $780.93.  In 1839 a portion of the courthouse fell down and the entire town came together and razed the entire structure.  By the end of 1841 a third courthouse had been constructed for a cost of $5500.  This 40 feet square structure had a cupola supported by pillars and surrounded by a railing.  This courthouse was destroyed by the great tornado/cyclone of 1888.

A fourth courthouse was erected after the disaster (see postcards#1, #2 and #3 below) and was in use until 1939.

Jefferson Co Courthouse - Postcard Postmarked Sep 1912

Jefferson Co Courthouse - Postcard Postmarked Sep 1913

Jefferson Co Courthouse (note steeple removed) circa1935

A fifth and final courthouse was erected in 1939 (see postcards #4 and #5 below).  Please note Civil War canon at Northwest corner of the square.

5th & final Jefferson Co courthouse erected 1939

5th & final Jefferson Co courthouse erected 1939 postmarked 1949

Sources:
1.  Mt. Vernon A Pictorial History by Thomas A. Puckett, 1991, G. Bradley Publishing.
2.  Facts and Folks, A History of Jefferson County, Illinois, 1978, Jefferson County Illinois Historical Society, Taylor Publishing company, Dallas, TX.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Workday Wednesday - Photographers - Unknown Mt. Vernon, IL Girl 1886

I have been sadly missing from this blog for sometime now, but life just seems to get in the way - there are only so many hours in the day and days in the week!  I recently posted this cabinet card from 1886 on my other blog, ForgottenFacesandLongAgoPlaces, of an unknown young woman who had her picture taken by well-known Mt. Vernon photographer James Hitchcock.  Although this girl is most likely no relation to me I decided to re-post to this blog.  Who knows, perhaps someone will recognize her and we can solve the mystery of her identity!

When I saw this cabinet card come up for sale on eBay, I knew I had to have it. This beautiful young woman with the winsome look on her face had her photo taken by Mr. & Mrs. Jas. Hitchcock of Mt. Vernon, Ills, my hometown. I am fascinated with the photography of Major James Hitchcock who lived and worked in Jefferson County, Il from about 1870 until his death in 1916. I have collected a few of his photographs, but this is by far my favorite to date.

When I received this photo in the mail I was excited to see that there was handwriting on the back and thought that the subject was identified. Upon closer examination, sadly it appears that the words say, "got home from Bonnie (or Rome) this AM Aug 30th 1886." Such a disappointment, but at least it helps to date the photograph.


Major James Hitchcock was a well-known Mt. Vernon citizen, coming to the city in 1870 from Indiana after the Civil War. He was born in Gibson County, Indiana in December 1843 to John William and Margaret (Brasher) Hitchcock. In 1862 he enlisted in the 71st Indiana Infantry, Company E, and transferred to the 6th Indiana Cavalry in February 1863. In 1864 in a disastrous attempt to release prisoners held at the notorious Andersonville, GA prisoner of war camp, he and 2,000 others were captured by Confederate troops and was himself held as a P.O.W. for nine months. He was taken from Andersonville to "somewhere in Florida" along with other prisoners where they were able to make their escape along the way.


In May of 1868 in Richland County, IL he married Annie E. Gardner and by 1870 they were living in Jefferson County, IL with a one year old daughter Barbara (Ruby). A son Ray was born in 1873 and a daughter Ethel in 1879. For many years he and his wife operated an extremely successful photography studio at 219 South Tenth Street in Mt. Vernon, IL (Jefferson County). He was well respected for his craft and his photos documented most of the history of Jefferson County and the surrounding areas between 1870 - 1910. His wife died in 1912 and Hitchcock was reported to be grief-stricken. He died four years later on 2 Jan 1916 and he and his family are buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Mt. Vernon.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July! - Early 1900's Celebration on Mt. Vernon, IL Town Square

Mt. Vernon, IL town square prob 1904 - 1910

This real photo postcard depicts the Mt. Vernon, IL town square in the early 1900's, most likely between 1904 and 1910. It appears to be celebration of some sort, there are what appear to be women of the Salvation Army or a similar organization standing in line in the front of the card.  There are numerous other people milling about including at least one child carrying the American Flag.  I am not certain as to the exact location on the square, but I believe the courthouse to be to the right.  

I am basing my dating of this card on several things.  First of all it is unfortunate that the card was not postmarked and mailed, but the Azo Card Company used different stamp box marks during different time periods.  This stamp box (see picture below) has four diamonds in the corners all pointing upwards which means this card could have been produced between 1904 and 1918.   Secondly, there are horse and buggies in this picture and no motor cars which were being made during this time frame.  I am sure there were people in Mt. Vernon who had motor cars as early as 1904, however not everyone could have afforded them and would still be using a horse and buggy.  Third, the other women in the photograph are wearing  shirtwaist type dresses which are more in line with the 1900 - 1910 era.  Since I know that the card was not made before 1904, I can only assume that the earliest this could have been taken was 1904 and possibly a few years after that.

It is still a wonderful piece of Mt. Vernon history and hopefully more information will be found to determine it's date and purpose.



Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sepia Saturday #124 - Mt. Vernon, IL Car Manufacturing Co - Car Shops


This postcard shows six (unidentified) workers from the Mt. Vernon, IL Car Manufacturing Co or better known as the "Car Shops."  It's not a miniature train like the one in Sepia Saturday's theme this week, but I thought it would be a great entry anyway.  The car shops manufactured train cars in Mt. Vernon starting in 1890 and lasting for sixty-four years. The first president of the shops was David O. Settlemire; his son-in-law Walter C. Arthurs was his secretary-treasurer.  During its heyday around 1912, 50 cars a day were rolled out.  My own great-grandfather, Joseph W. Wade was for a time a Foreman/Manager at the car shops around 1912- 1928 and was quite prosperous.

Unfortunately, this postcard was not mailed so there is no postmark date.  However, by using the symbol in the upper right hand corner on the back side of the postcard "Cyko" I was able to determine this card was made between 1906 and 1915.



Please check out the other great stories at Sepia Saturday this week.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday's Obituary - Fern Bruce Warren Williams, Mt. Vernon, IL

Fern Bruce 1920's
Mt. Vernon Register News 28 Jun 1958



My great-grandmother, Charlotta Ruth Banks Wade Berry's half sister, Fern Bruce.  Fern was the daughter of Sarah Eva Talley and Frank Z. Bruce.  She was born 6 Jul 1900 in Mt. Vernon, IL and died 28 Jun 1958 also in Mt. Vernon.  She is buried at Oakwood Cemetery.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Travel Tuesday - Valentine Sentiment from L & N Train Station, Mt. Vernon, IL - 100 Yrs Ago Today

L & N Train Station, Mt. Vernon, IL ca 1910
Although not a Valentine's Day card, I thought this postcard of the L & N Train Depot in Mt. Vernon, Illinois sent on February 14, 1912 was very fitting for today's post.  The postcard appears to have been sent by John Barlett Jr. to his wife, Mrs. Jno. Bartlett, Jr. at 1028 W. Thorman (?) St. in Springfield, MO.  Evidently, for whatever reason he was staying in Mt. Vernon and sent this very loving message to his wife:


2/14/12:  My own darling, Rec'd your loving letter today and was more than pleased to hear from my lover. As I do not intend to come back up town tonight I bought some postals to mail instead of a letter.  Will write a long letter tomorrow night.  Am sorry indeed to hear that Eugenie is not so well.  As ever your own, John.


There is a numeral 2 circled on the back as well as  a "#2" on the front which possibly indicates this was the second of two postcards mailed.  This postcard for some reason was postmarked Feb 14, 1912 on the back and Feb, 15, 2012 on the front.  It sounds like John loved and missed his wife very much. Very romantic even though it was not a Valentine,  wish I knew what the first postcard said.
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