Madison County ILGenWeb

index sitemap advanced
search engine by freefind

LINKS

Bethalto, Illinois, Newspaper Clippings

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser

 

EARLY HISTORY OF BETHALTO

 

BETHALTO AREA SAW MILL
Source: Alton Weekly Courier, June 4, 1857
We take great pleasure in making room in our columns for the following letter and accompanying certificates, which we think will satisfy any one who is conversant with such machinery, that our Alton made mills are "hard to beat." From the Forks of Wood River, Madison County, May 20th, 1857, to Messrs. Johnson & Emerson, Piasa Foundry, Alton, Illinois:

"I now have the Circular Saw Mill I purchased of you in operation, and can say without any hesitation that I have the best Circular Saw Mill in the country, anywhere. Day before yesterday I ran it from sunrise to sunset, lacking two hours, making twelve hours steady running; and in that time cut fifteen thousand six hundred and ninety-four feet of three quarter inch stuff, of which thirteen thousand five hundred feet was ____, [linn?], and the balance was white oak, from two to four inches thick. Forty logs were used, of a small average size. My mill is a single mill, and is fitted with a fifty-eight-inch saw. Should anyone doubt the correctness of the above, I will here state that I will wager my mill against its cost, that I can cut on it twenty thousand feet, surface measure, from sunrise to sunset. If you hear of any one that wishes to take the bet, send him along. My mill is about four miles northeast of Upper Alton." From L. T. Hamilton.

"I certify that I saw the above lumber cut, and measured it myself, and that is the actual net measurement. Joshua Wood."

"We, the undersigned, certify that the above is a correct statement, having seen the mill do the work ourselves. Elder John Brown, Alexander Hodge, John Murphy, and D. J. Titchenal."

 

BETHALTO - A YOUNG LADY'S SUICIDE
Source: Cleveland, New York Lakeside Press, October 11, 1879
A very pathetic suicide was that of Miss Emma Patterson at St. Louis, a few days ago. She was from Bethalto, Illinois, where her remarkable beauty and accomplishments made her the belle of the place. Her father was poor, but she moved in the best society, and most of her associates had far more money to spend on personal adornment than she had. One of her suitors was John Shelton, and he recently left a watch and $130 with her while he went on a short journey. On his return she made trivial apologies for not giving them back. He learned one day that she had engaged herself to marry Mr. Montgomery, and he peremptorily demanded his property. She had spent the money dollar by dollar in buying bits of finery, and as she could get no help from her father, she was unable to repay Shelton, who threatened her arrest. She went to St. Louis and tried to get employment, but failed, and committed suicide.

 

PRESIDENT FLOUR MILL BURNED
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, August 23, 1882
Our neighboring town of Bethalto was visited last night by the greatest calamity in its history - the burning of the President Flour Mills, and several other buildings. The mill was one of the largest and most complete in Southern Illinois, having a capacity of from 500 to 600 barrels of flour per day. It was owned by John W. Kaufman of St. Louis. It cost him $74,000. It had been repaired and refitted within the last two months, and equipped with the patent rollers process, at a further cost of $35,000. The fire broke out about 9 o'clock last evening while the mill was in operation, and spread so rapidly that nothing could stay its progress. The cause is supposed to have been the heating of the machinery. The mill, elevator and adjoining buildings covered a large acreage, and soon all were a mass of flames, and the citizens were soon obliged to bend all their energies to save the main part of the town from destruction. In spite of all efforts, the flames soon communicated to W. F. Neisler's large agricultural warehouse, B. Picker's saloon, and Pat Conley's saloon, all of which were destroyed. It was only by superhuman exertions on the part of citizens, under direction of Mr. C. H. Flick, that the remainder of the block was saved.

The elevator connected with the mill contained 20,000 bushels of wheat, all of which was lost. There was also a large quantity of flour destroyed in the warehouse, representing 5,000 bushels of wheat. The loss on building and machinery was $109,000; on wheat and flour at least $25,000 more. The losses of Messrs. Neisler, Conley and Picker we have not heard estimated, but we understand that most of Mr. Neisler's stock was saved. The mill was insured to amount of $50,000 or $60,000 in various companies. The calamity is a very serious one for Bethalto, and will have a prostrating effect, for the time, on the business of the place. We trust the mill will soon be rebuilt.

 

THE PRIDE OF BETHALTO IN ASHES
President Mills Destroyed
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, August 24, 1882
August 22, about 9:45 o'clock, a fire broke out in the upper story of the President Mills. It was discovered first in the smut machines, and was conducted to the bran duster. It was seen at once that nothing could be done to save the mill, which with the elevators, warehouses, Ben Picker's dwelling house and saloon, Pat Conley's Saloon, ice house and barn, and Neisler & Randle's machine depot, together with a lot of machinery, were consumed. With great difficulty and hard work Cooper's Hotel, Neisler & Randle's large business house and the Custom Mills were saved. If either of the two former buildings had burned, no doubt more than four blocks would have been in ashes at this time.

Much credit is due Messrs. Flick, Woodley, Hamp, Montgomery, Ralph Henderson, Louis Bauer, Nick Smith, H. Bowman, H. D. Burcham, Mish and Henry Meyer, and others, for the active work performed. Messrs. Neisler & Randle had a great many good damaged by moving. W. H. Battles moved about half his stock, and was somewhat damaged thereby. Conley lost everything except one barrel of whiskey and his horse and buggy; no insurance. Picker saved most of his furniture and stock; no insurance on building. Cooper's Hotel and J. A. Miller's business house were somewhat damaged. W. H. Battles' dwelling would, no doubt, have burned had it not been for Messrs. L. J. Lawrence, Louis Wood, Sam Luman and Miss Addie Smith, who kept it pretty well soaked with water.

Thus, one of the best and finest mills in the State of Illinois is in ruins. Nothing remains except the tall smokestack, which stands as a monument to the once prosperous and magnificent mill. Mr. Weidmer, the Superintendent, went to St. Louis this morning, and it is expected J. W. Kauffman, the proprietor, will arrive here this evening. At this writing we have not learned the total loss, but it is estimated to be nearly $200,000, perhaps more. The mill, Neisler & Randle, J. Cooper and J. A. Miller, were insured. Neisler & Randle's loss is about $500; Cooper's $100; and Miller's $50. There are several other small losses. This is the best site in Southern Illinois for a mill of this kind, and no doubt it will be rebuilt soon. There were about 25,000 bushels of wheat consumed, and a large amount of flour, we have not learned how much. Many amusing incidents happened while the fire was burning, one in particular was when the steam from the boiler commenced to escape. A great many started on a run down the railroad, but they need have had no fear of explosion, for Weaver and Smith, the engineers, had made everything safe. Xavier Stark, millwright, had all his tools and sixty dollars in cash burned.

 

BETHALTO NEWS
Source: Alton Telegraph, February 8, 1894
The ladies of the M. E. church will give a box sociable at the residence of Mrs. J. T. Ewan on Wednesday, February 14th. Rev. Allison Hunt will fill his regular appointment at the C. P. church next Sunday. Mrs. Lena Starkey is quite ill at her father's residence on Sherman street. Mr. Harry Picker is convalescing after a siege of several weeks’ sickness. Mr. James McDonald visited Edwardsville twice this week. Mr. S. R. Hudnall and lady are entertaining a lady friend from Rosemond. Mr. and Mrs. Brant, of Upper Alton, were the guests of Mr. Fred Ackerman and lady Tuesday. Mrs. Chas. Dude, of Nokomis, who formerly resided east of our city, was a welcome visitor at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Jackson, of Fort Russell. Tally another boy for our friend, Fred Ackerman. The big break at the President mills was patched in double quick time, which enables them to start up again today. The company has ordered a splendid new engine, which is now in process of construction and will be placed some time between now and harvest. The outlook for our little city is brightening and we are led to believe that in the next few years we will notice more growth than we have witnessed in a number of years past. There is no reason why a large coal mine would not do well, and enterprises of other kinds would find perhaps no better location in the State. We are close to large markets, have fair railroad facilities and prospects for better, and by the way, we are to have a new postmaster at the beginning of the next quarter, in the person of Andrew Jackson Canipe.

 

LARGE FIRE AT PRESIDENT MILLS
[ALSO CALLED KAUFFMANN'S MILL]
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 7, 1895
Bethalto News - On the night of August 22, 1882, our citizens witnessed the burning of the President Mills, and on the 2d inst., they were called upon to look at a similar conflagration. About 12:30 o'clock Saturday everybody was startled by a shock and a rumbling sound, and before the fire bell rang out the streets were full of people running towards John W. Kauffman's large mills. It was soon learned that there had been a terrible dust explosion, and the sound had hardly died away before the flumes were leaping from every window. Notwithstanding the company had expended several thousand dollars for protection against fire, it was so sudden that nothing could be done, and the mill burned in less than two hours. The large elevator burned longer. About 35,000 bushels of wheat was stored in the bins, which is still burning. At the time of the explosion, Messrs. Thomas Scott and Otto Ostendorph, employees, were in the fourth story of the mill. They were both thrown to the floor with great force. They were up in a moment, and crawling and feeling their way between timbers, spouting and machinery - they managed to get to the door which led downstairs, losing no time in getting to the open air. Scott is now suffering from a dislocated shoulder; Ostendorph was slightly burned. They did indeed have a miraculous escape. Three other employees were on the lower floor but escaped with slight injury. There might have been fatalities to report had it not been so soon after the dinner hour, and the employees had not returned to work. The loss to the Kauffman Milling Co. will be about $200,000, partly covered by insurance. The large warehouse in which was stored several thousand barrels of flour was saved by very hard work. The two large smoke stacks fell about 7 o'clock Monday night, which made another crash. The public is warned away from the standing walls. The C. P. church standing east nearly one-quarter of a mile took fire from chunks of fire, some of which traveled a mile before going out. Mr. Ewans' custom mills were with difficulty saved, as was J. A. Miller's grocery store. Ohley's saloon stock and fixtures was a total loss. Mr. Picker's house on the corner was quickly consumed, and for a time the ice house and barn and Mr. H. A. Ewan's new residence was in great danger. The front of Philip Schoeppet's saloon was considerably damaged, and the sidewalk for some distance was burned. Mr. J. S. Thrailkill moved his furniture right quick. Mr. Klein's folks were also hustling valuables to a safe distance. The large safe which was in the mill office, and contained the books and papers, has not yet been opened. The loss is a large one to the company and also to the town, but we hope to see another mill and elevator in the near future. This is one of the best points for a milling business in Southern Illinois, and many milling men know this and if Mr. K. does not rebuild, others will grasp the opportunity.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 4, 1895
The destruction of the large flour mills at Bethalto on Saturday last is a disastrous blow to that thriving and enterprising village. It is hoped that Mr. Kauffman will rebuild, and no doubt he will, as he now has no flour mill. The mill was, it is thought, very fully covered by insurance. Bethalto is one of the best locations for a flour mill in the country. It is in the midst of one of the best wheat sections in the State, has excellent shipping facilities, and what is better, mills have always made money in Bethalto. Therefore, taking all things into consideration, the chances are excellent for the rebuilding of Bethalto's mill, possibly larger and better than ever before. The owner of the mills, Mr. D. W. Kauffman of St. Louis, was on his way to Boston to attend the funeral of a relative when the fire occurred.

Source: Rochester, New York Democrat Chronicle, March 3, 1895
Fire started in the Kauffmann mill here today. The large elevator adjoining the mill was in flames in an hour and is a total loss. The flames then spread to another flour mill adjoining the elevator and that was reduced to ashes. The elevator destroyed contained 40,000 bushels of wheat. It is believed the fire was caused by an explosion of flour dust. Loss $200,000. Insured.

 

FIRE IN BETHALTO
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 25, 1901
Hugh Speir's blacksmith shop and G. Klemm's hardware store on Prairie street took fire Friday night about 8:30 and burned to the ground. By heroic work, the Duffey house was saved. Mr. Speir only had $200 insurance. Mr. Klemm carried none. His loss will be $1,000. A large portion of his stock was saved, and he takes this means of extending thanks to his friends for saving much of his goods. The buildings belonged to Mr. Klemm. Mr. Speir, who is a wide-awake business man, immediately rented Squire Piggott's building, opposite the post office, and is fitting it up and will be ready for business the latter part of the week.

 

SCREAMING PANTHER CAUSES TERROR IN BETHALTO
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 9, 1904
It has been some time since the Indian creek panther caused dwellers along that classic stream in the vicinity of Bethalto to stay at home of nights, and it has been several months since the panther invaded barnyards and carried off lambs, pigs and calves, but the animal is back again, it is reported, and can scream more loudly and viciously than ever. John Kruse was returning from Edwardsville late Thursday night, and was jogging along on horseback at an easy gait, and as he entered a strip of woods in the creek bottom through which the wagon road winds, and was about half way through this strip of timber, when all at once there was a crash through the leaves and limbs above him; the horse frightened, jumped and swerved, and a huge body descended from a tree and alighted on the ground just where the horse had been a moment before. Kruse and his horse were both badly frightened and lost no time in putting space between them and the spot, and the equine's speed was accelerated immensely by the unearthly and agonized screams of the disappointed panther - for it was the panther. Now again will the men of that section become confirmed stay-at-homes of nights, and there is likely to be a boom in the sale of big steel traps which will be set in barnyards and in woodland in hope that the panther may be caught by one of them.

 

DIPHTHERIA SCARE IN BETHALTO
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 27, 1917
For the second time within the past few months, schools, churches and other public places in Bethalto have been ordered closed by the mayor on account of diphtheria. An order was given today that all the churches and the school be closed and that the people should stop congregating on the streets as much as possible. A new case has broken out, which is very severe and a general epidemic is feared if precautions are not taken at once. The Rev. Alfred Kortkamp of Upper Alton, who has been holding a series of revival services in the Bethalto Baptist Church, received word today not to hold any more meetings until after the fear of the diphtheria epidemic had subsided, which will be in about a week or ten days.

 

LAST OF BAND OF FARMERS BURIED IN PRUITT CEMETERY
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 9, 1920
Joseph Kitzmiller, the ninety-year-old resident of the Bethel neighborhood, nine miles from Jerseyville, who was buried Saturday, was the last of a band of fifty farmers organized about 56 years ago to buy ground for a cemetery, and for a site for a church, according to his son, Richard Kitzmiller, the Belle street [Alton] barber. Joseph Kitzmiller followed forty-nine of the original band of fifty to their last resting places in the cemetery they bought jointly more than half a century ago. All did not live and die in that vicinity, but all who moved away and died were brought back for burial in the cemetery, which the purchasers named the Pruitt cemetery, a name it has kept since. The first building erected as a house of worship by the fifty was a log one, but the Bethel church of today is the development of the pioneer church organized by the majority of the fifty. "He helped bury forty-nine of the original fifty," Richard Kitzmiller says, "and their descendants helped bury him, the last of the fifty."

 

Back to the Top