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 BREWERY DESTROYED BY FIRE
Source: Alton Telegraph, December 27, 1867
The brewery of Jacob Huppert at Bethalto was totally destroyed by fire last evening. The fire was discovered about seven o’clock, and is supposed to have been the work of an incendiary. The building was a new one, and had just commenced operations. We could not ascertain the total loss, but the insurance amounts to $4,000.

 

BETHALTO MASONS
Source: Alton Telegraph, January 24, 1868
The Bethalto lodge of A. F. and A. Masons held a public installation in the Presbyterian Church in that place, on Saturday evening, the 11th instant, at which the members appeared in full uniform, and the chosen candidates took upon themselves the vows of their respective offices, the Hon. Mr. Dimmock of Edwardsville presiding. The Hon. E. M. West was expected to deliver an address on the occasion, but failed to come to time. After the installation, the members of the fraternity and their good-looking friends retired to their hall, and there were introduced to a banquet – delightful to the eyes, sweet to the taste, and most invigorating to the hungry souls. At 11 o’clock, the assembly dispersed, bearing with them the most pleasing recollections of the occasion. May the lodge be benefitted, and may they live to enjoy many such reunions.

 

BETHALTO MILL ESTABLISHED
Source: Alton Telegraph, May 22, 1868
Mr. E. C. Long has just established a custom mill in the town of Bethalto, and is now ready for business. Custom work is done on Tuesday and Friday of each week. This is an enterprise which deserves the support of the public.

 

HENRY SMITH OF BETHALTO SEVERELY WOUNDED
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 18, 1871
On Saturday, August 12, as John F. cox and Henry Smith were returning home from a hunt in the woods, Mr. Smith’s gun was accidentally discharged while he was riding along in a buggy. Smith stood up in the buggy and looked around to see if he could see the steeple of the church in Upper Alton. His movement displaced the gun, which was lying in front of him on the bed of the vehicle, and the piece slipped to the ground. As it fell, the hammer struck the wheel, discharging the gun, the load lodging in his right arm, close to the shoulder joint. He was driven to the residence of Dr. N. B. Richards of Bethalto, some two miles from where the accident happened. Dr. Richards being out, Dr. S. A. Albro was called and stopped the flow of blood. When Dr. Richards returned, on examination of the wound he decided that the limb had to come off, and Drs. Williams and Haskell of Alton were summoned, and about two o’clock the same night, the arm was successfully amputated at the shoulder joint by Drs. Williams and Haskell of Alton, and N. B. Richards and Martin of Bethalto. It was thought improbable that he could survive the operation. Another warning to hunters to discharge their guns before traveling on the roads.

 

BETHALTO NEWS
Source: Alton Telegraph, September 29, 1871
Mr. S. Miller of Bethalto, who crossed the Plains in 1851, in company with a number of persons from this part of the State, returned home a few weeks since looking well and hearty. He gives glowing accounts of the many places of interest visited by him during his sojourn in that western country, among which we might mention the famous Yosemite Valley; the noted big trees of Callaveras County; the highest point on the Union Pacific Railroad; Sherman City, etc. Mr. Miller has been living several years in the mining regions of California, and expects, after a vacation of some months among friends in this locality, to return to the land of his adoption.

Mr. Marion Starkey, who was burned out some months since, has resumed his old business, and is ready at all times to relieve his customers of any loose change with which they feel burdened, giving them in return a good quality of goods of anything in his line.

The time-honored passenger depot of the Indianapolis and St. Louis Railroad at this place has been ornamented with an addition in the shape of a bay window, and treated to a coat of paint. It now presents a respectable appearance, for which improvements the traveling public feel grateful.

 

BETHALTO NEWS
Source: Alton Telegraph, March 1, 1872
Mr. P. B. Fishback resigned his position as principal of the Bethalto schools on account of poor health, and has been succeeded by Mr. J. S. Culp. The change gives satisfaction to everyone.

Messrs. C. H. Flick and J. T. Ewing have made arrangements to build at once a Custom Mill in Bethalto. Mr. Flick is known to be a straight-forward business man, in whom the community has confidence. His partner is a practical miller. In the hands of such men, the enterprise is bound to be a paying business.

Mr. S. B. Harrison has sold his entire stock of goods and storehouse to a St. Louis man, who is to take possession March 15. Mr. Harrison has been long in business here, and was supposed to be one of the permanent institutions of the place.

Four buildings are waiting the opening of Spring to begin work – elevator and warehouse, mill, storehouse and residence.

 

BETHALTO NEWS
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 9, 1872
Messrs. Ewan & Flick are putting the machinery in their new mill, and will be ready for grinding in a few days. Their engine was built by Beech & Co. of Litchfield, Illinois, and the burr stones by Messrs. Davidson & Co. of Dayton, Ohio.

The work on Messrs. Meyer & Guye’s elevator, under the skillful superintendence and direction of Mr. George Hangerford, is progressing rapidly, and will be completed by the middle of next month. T. S. Moulton & Son, of Chicago, are the contractors. The building is 75 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 81 feet in height, which seems very high here where there are no tall buildings. Upper Alton is plainly visible from the top. In connection with the building is a railroad scale, to weigh the cars before unloading, said to be the only one between East St. Louis and Terre Haute. It will hold 60,000 bushels.

Mr. Charles Scheibe of Fosterburg is building a large brick house for a residence for C. Balsters, a well-to-do farmer, three miles south of town.

Mr. J. W. Guild of Rolla, Missouri, has opened a photograph gallery in Bethalto, where he will be pleased to take pictures for everyone.

Mr. J. S. Deck, three years principal of the Bethalto schools, and last year of the Venice school, has again taken up his residence with us. He takes charge of the Oak Grove School next year.

 

BETHALTO ORGANIZES AS A VILLAGE
Source: Alton Telegraph, May 9, 1873
Our citizens, on April 23, decided to organize as a village under the general law regulating cities and villages. Yesterday, the election of officers for the village took place, with the following result:

Trustees – C. H. Flick, Adam Ellsperman, J. V. Richards, John Stolze, Charles Gundall, and S. A. Albro.
Clerk – W. E. Lehr
Police Magistrate – J. A. Miller

There was considerable excitement over the result, and as the majority elected were connected with the old Board, we do not fear any changes for the worse in the coming year.

 

BETHALTO NEWS - HORSE THIEVES CAPTURED
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 22, 1873
We have had quite an exciting time here since last Saturday morning, over the arrest and preliminary examination of parties charged with stealing horses, wagon, harness, etc. The faces are as follows: A well-to-do farmer, named William Matlock, residing near Greencastle in Madison County, had in his employ for some nine months, a young man named Lee Mayberry, a stranger in that section, also a young woman named Martha Sutton, whose parents reside near or somewhere in the vicinity of Prairie City. These young folks took a notion to unite their fortunes, hence gave notice of a desire to leave their employer. He reluctantly consented, and Monday, August 4, he took them to the residence of Mr. Jerry Sutton. The nuptials were duly celebrated the next day. Previous to this, a son of Mr. Matlock missed a valuable set of harness. On Wednesday last week, Mr. Matlock missed a pony from his pasture, but thinking he had gone over the fence somewhere, he made but little noise about it. On Thursday evening of last week, two valuable horses were taken from his barnyard, when Mr. Matlock thought it time to look around for the thief or thieves. He at once suspected this Mayberry, and employed Mr. I. F. Brown of Bethalto, who was in that vicinity selling sewing machines, to visit the premises of Mr. Sutton, father-in-law of Mayberry, which he did, and by very adroit management, learned that there were horses there which they did not wish him to see. He drove to Bethalto, secured the assistance of Mr. James McDonald, in whose company he returned to the premises aforesaid. It was now nearly dusk, Friday evening, they approached cautiously and saw Mayberry in the lot watering a pair of horses, while Sutton was there talking with him. They could hear but little of the conversation, but gathered enough to satisfy them that they were speaking in relation to disposing of those horses as soon as things got a little quiet. Soon Mayberry took the horses into a thick woods, which comes up to a few feet of the lot, and Messrs. Brown and McDonald followed closely after. He went but a short distance, till he halted at a wagon, which was also stolen, to which he fastened them. His pursuers were now upon him, and actually examining the horses for certain brands before he knew of their presence. Discovering them, he started to run. Bot called to him to halt, which failing to do, McDonald fired his pistol, the load of which lodged in Mayberry’s shoulder, and a race of some hundred yards took place in the darkness and brush, which resulted in the capture of the fugitive, who at once told them that he was not alone in this business. They did not, however, deem it prudent to attempt the arrest or search for other parties until reinforced, hence left with their prisoner for Bethalto, where his wound was dressed by Dr. Albro. It proved to be a flesh wound. He had an examination before W. L. Piggott, Esq., and was bound over to appear at the next term of the Circuit Court, in the sum of $1,000, which he failed to give, hence was sent to jail.

Mayberry’s statement and other circumstances led to the arrest of the Sutton family, viz: Jerry Sutton, his sons William and Peter, wife, and the wife of Mayberry. But at their examination on Monday before the Justice aforesaid, there was no evidence to criminate any but the old man and the wife of Mayberry, and that very slight. Yet the Justice, under the circumstances, felt authorized to send them to jail, they failing to give the required bond - $1,000 each. The property has all been restored to its rightful owners. One person, perhaps more, will be sent to the State prison, and the honeymoon of one couple shortened. Upon inquiring, I learn that the Sutton family have been, and are now considered honest, poor folks, by all their neighbors, while said Mayberry says they are connected with a band of horse thieves, that he saw a book in their house giving the names and doings of the band for some time. Diligent search was made for this book, but without success.

A replevin suit from Bethalto was heard before Justice Quarton Tuesday. A Dr. Easton of Bethalto, a druggist, was arrested and incarcerated in jail for selling liquor without a government license, but was afterwards bailed out. Soon after, Constable Randle got out an attachment on certain goods and furniture belonging to Easton, in order to secure the costs of the above suit. After the attachment was issued, it appeared that Mr. R. McDonald had a mortgage upon all the property attached, whereupon the latter proceeded to replevin the property. The case was argued by Messrs. Hope and Cambrill for the plaintiff, and Hon. J. H. Yager and Squire Picket of Bethalto for the defense. The jury rendered a verdict giving the property to Mr. McDonald.

 

BETHALTO NEWS
Source: Alton Telegraph, September 19, 1873
The work on the calaboose and hall for the town has commenced. Mr. J. Falkenberg is about ready to commence work on a two-story brick house he is going to put up this fall.

 

BETHALTO NEWS
Source: Alton Telegraph, December 5, 1873
There have been four new buildings put up here this fall. Messrs. Uzzell and Walsh have each built a comfortable frame house and moved into them last week. Mr. J. Falkenberg’s building – a three-story brick – is enclosed, and will soon be completed. The town hall and calaboose are also slowly approaching completion. If the weather remains favorable, it will be ready for use by the holidays. Mr. S. L. Miller has repainted his two tenement houses, which make them look as bright as new.

Mr. M. Starkey, for several years a merchant in this place, has sold his stock of goods, consisting of dry goods and groceries, to W. H. Battles of St. Louis, and is traveling for a St. Louis firm. Mr. Battles has increased the stock by an addition of new and seasonable goods.

Mr. George Blay has opened a drugstore in Richards’ building. Mr. Blay has a well-selected stock, and comes here well recommended as an honest and reliable druggist. Dr. Graves has bought of McDonald the stock of drugs left over by Dr. Easton and others, and is endeavoring to sell them off at the old stand.

Mr. Mapes of Hillsboro has opened a harness shop here, and is prepared to do any kind of making or repairing of harness on short notice and in good style. Mr. F. W. Stotze has found a competent blacksmith to commence work in his shop.

Mr. William Tryon, agent of the I. & St. L. Railroad Co., at this place, ever since said road has been built, was compelled by reason of his failing health, to resign his position as ticket and freight agent. His successor is Mr. J. S. Collins.

The panic has not affected us like those in the cities. The Bethalto Mills, Messrs. Meyer & Guye, still employ their same force – some thirty men – at the old wages. The same is true of Messrs. Z. B. Job & Co.’s mines.

Mr. J. Wiemers, south of town, has just finished and moved into his large and commodious brick house. A. H. Ferguson is sinking a coal shaft on his land north of town. Mr. C. N. Bivens has been appointed our Village Attorney.

 

NEWS FROM BETHALTO
Source: Alton Telegraph, November 5, 1874
Gundall’s new building is just completed, and being occupied by George Bley as a drugstore. It is decidedly the finest business house in the village. In fact, it has quite a “metropolitan air” in front and finish.

The Baptists have their church house up and enclosed. They expect to finish it this fall. It promises to be ahead of anything in the vicinity, both in style and convenience.

Robert Walsh, Esq., is building a fine residence for himself – two-story brick, to be finished in the modern style. Mrs. Charlotte Buckheit has built quite an addition to her residence. Also N. Smith, Esq., has enlarged his residence by adding another room.

 

NEWS FROM BETHALTO
Source: Alton Telegraph, October 28, 1875
October 25, 1875 – Messrs. Hixon and Gere have abandoned the artesian well they have been at work on, and are engaged in erecting a derrick to begin a new well. They have worked for some time to get the drill out of the well they were at work on, but have come to the conclusion that someone has dropped a piece of iron into the well and wedge the drill so tightly, that it cannot be taken out. The next well is to be eleven inches in diameter, so they will have a better chance to handle their drill. We wish them success.

Upon complaint of Mrs. Mary Heither, wife of Charles Heither, a warrant was issued by W. L. Piggott, Justice of the Peace, and placed in the hands of Constable Griffee, against Charles Heither, for assault and battery. He appeared in court, and after his Honor, the Squire, heard the evidence, he fined Charles $25 and cost. It appeared that Mr. Heither was not in the best of humor, and tried to relieve himself by choking his wife, which act is not approved of by this community.

 

NEWS FROM BETHALTO
Source: Alton Telegraph, November 18, 1875
The furnace was put into the Baptist Church last week and was tried on Sunday. It worked to a “T.” The sexton thought he would try the heating powers of the furnace, so he heated it seven times hotter than there was any need of, and came near melting the audience.

Mrs. Muchheit has closed out her saloon, and opened a new grocery store. We think the village would be better off if several others would do likewise.

The National Hotel has been purchased by Mr. Dorr, who is going to erect a furniture store in connection with the hotel.

The mill, owned by Messrs. Meyer & Guye of St. Louis, and under the charge of Mr. Ed Kueck, is doing a large amount of business and giving life to our village. They manufacture their own barrels there, giving steady work to 18 men in the cooper shop, and about the same number in and around the mill, with a payroll of nearly $300 per week. The mill runs day and night the year round, except when stopped for repairs. In the last four weeks, they have bought 4,050 bushels of wheat, of which seventy-nine car loads were received by rail, being grown in Texas, Tennessee, and Kentucky. During the same time, they have shipped 4,800 barrels of flour to the East. In connection with the mill there is an elevator and warehouse. The former holds about sixty thousand bushels of wheat. The latter is 60x100 feet, and has capacity for about six thousand barrels of flour.

 

FIRE AT JOHN S. CULP STORE
Source: Alton Telegraph, December 9, 1875
From Bethalto – Saturday night about eleven o’clock, the store building in Bethalto, owed by John S. Culp of Upper Alton, was found to be on fire, in the room occupied as a furniture store by Mr. Stein. Adjoining this room was the store of Bernard Picker, who lived in the rear wing of the building. Mr. Picker was the first to discover the fire, and at once gave the alarm. The parties on the ground found the fire on the floor adjoining the partition of the two rooms, and succeeded in putting out the flames as they supposed, but soon after, the fire was discovered between the lining and the outside, and bursting through the roof, it rapidly got the advantage and the entire building was consumed. The furniture stock of Mr. Stein was totally consumed, also that of Mr. Picker. Mr. Culp, the owner of the building, loses about $3,500, less $2,000 insurance. It is supposed the fire was the act of some malicious person or tramp-burglar.

 

NEWS FROM BETHALTO
Source: Alton Telegraph, February 22, 1877
August Krechle of Alton is having a building erected near the Bethalto house, preparatory to opening a meat shop. By his coming in our midst and building, Frank Eaton has given up the idea of opening a shop. Long may August stay with us.

E. A. Gere has commenced boring wells. Last week was a hard one on Postmasters. Messrs. Mayer & Guyo are shelling corn. C. H. Flick is having a house built on his land east of town. The plasterers are now at work on J. P. Wood’s new residence.

 

NEWS FROM BETHALTO
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 2, 1877
Who says the great railroad strike in East St. Louis did not hurt Bethalto? Merchants got “struck bound” at St. Louis. Groceries got scarce. Building material was detained on the railroad. Mill operators could not get money with which to buy wheat. Milk could not be shipped, and worst of all, the supply of beer gave out.

When the trains began to run again, the enthusiasm was immense. Women ran to the doors, and children, tramps, loafers, and whittlers of dry good boxes congregated at the depot. Working men (not on strike) left their work to see the curiosity – a train – going through town. Four stock trains went east yesterday afternoon, and the first local was run east this morning.

 

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.

 

FIRE AT BETHALTO
Source: Alton Telegraph, February 29, 1880
We learn from Mr. Otto Maerdian that a fire broke out in a tin shop adjoining Frick’s Hall at Bethalto, about 3:30 o’clock this morning. The building was all in a blaze when the alarm was given, and was entirely destroyed. Frick’s Hall was badly scorched, many of the window frames and an outside stairway being burned. A masquerade ball was in progress in the hall at the time, and the dancers had some difficulty in escaping from the place, the buildings being only five or six feet apart.

 

NEWS FROM BETHALTO
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 5, 1880
Mrs. McIlhany has leased one lot of the town hall property for ten years. She will move her bakery and restaurant building at once. This will be a very desirable location for her, as she can then secure the railroad patronage.

A great deal of well-earned praise is due our efficient street commissioner, Flick, and also the members of the town board, for the fine condition with which they keep the streets and the excellent repair in which the sidewalks are always kept. We will venture to assert that there is not a village or city in the State that has better streets and walks, or has a greater advantage for shade than this one.

 

NEWS FROM BETHALTO
Source: Alton Telegraph, April 21, 1881
Mr. B. C. Meyer, engineer at the big mill, is the lucky patentee of an automatic self-registering scale for weighing running wheat, bran, etc. It is a perfect “little hatchet” machine – can always be relied on.

The rock foundation for Mr. C. H. Flick’s hotel building was commenced yesterday. If Bethalto contained a few more of the Squire’s grit, it would rise above villageism in a short time. Third Street catches all the booms. This improvement is a much needed and welcomed enterprise.

The farmers are very busy. Mr. B. Picker is putting u a building north of the elevator to be used as a saloon. Ex-City Marshal, James McDonald, has returned to his first love – farming. The west end of Third Street is being widened, good thing. The shameful practice of butchering shade trees has commenced in Bethalto.

 

NEWS FROM BETHALTO
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 18, 1881
Last Sunday morning, our city marshal let the prisoners, incarcerated in the village jail, out in the hall for a little fresh air, and went home. While he was away, two of them took an iron poker and pried the door open. They stepped out into the open air, walked very leisurely down the street as if nothing had transpired, until they had got a little way out, when they took to their heels and ran like scared wolves. They have not been heard of since. The other young man was more sensible and stayed, as it is more than likely he will be released in a very few days.

 

NEWS FROM BETHALTO
Source: Alton Telegraph, September 1, 1881
Mr. Neisler’s men have finished burning the brick this week for his large building on Third Street. Mr. Charles F. Degenhardt of Alton came out Saturday and put the roof on Squire Flick’s new hotel building. The Squire thinks it a splendid job, and is well pleased with his work.

Mr. D. Lewis sold last Saturday, September 27, to Mr. John Oetkin, his farm of about sixty acres, for the sum of $4,925 cash. Most of this land lies just outside the village limits on the east, a small portion being inside. Mr. Lewis will sell at public auction on September 10, all his farm machinery, livestock, household and kitchen furniture, also several acres of good corn in the field, preparatory to moving with his family to Indiana.

 

NEWS FROM BETHALTO
Source: Alton Telegraph, October 13, 1881
A meeting of soldiers and prisoners of the late war [Civil War] was held at the village hall Friday evening last, to make arrangements to attend the reunion of soldiers of the State of Illinois, to be held at Springfield, October 19 and 20, 1881. Colonel Rodgers was appointed chairman, and J. A. Miller clerk of the meeting. Committees on arrangements were appointed as follows: C. H. Flick and J. A. Miller for Bethalto; J. S. Culp and Moses Thomson for Fosterburg; Captain John Berry and E. K. Prewitt for Moto; Colonel Andrew Rodgers and Solomon Wood for Upper Alton. The Bethalto Cornet Band will accompany them, and the boys anticipate a pleasant trip.

Mr. James Larby sold his beautiful property on Third Street this week, to Mr. J. W. Clark. Consideration twenty-one hundred dollars. Mr. Clark in this trade has secured a “big bargain,” the property being worth nearly twice that amount.

 

NEWS FROM BETHALTO
Source: Alton Telegraph, November 3, 1881
Postmaster Piggott has resigned his position as postmaster at this place, and it is said Mr. W. H. Battles will occupy that position in the future. Mr. N. B. Richards Jr. started last week for Arizona, where he intends working on the new Santa Fe Railroad. Quite a number of our citizens went on a fox hunt a few days ago. There were about thirty-five men, one dozen hounds, and three foxes. The foxes were killed, the men and dogs came out safe. The next chase will come off on November 6. Work is progressing on W. F. Neisler’s new building under the supervision of Mr. C. H. Flick.

 

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.

 

PRESIDENT MILL IN BETHALTO DESTROYED BY FIRE
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 7, 1895
On the night of August 22, 1882, our citizens witnessed the burning of the President Mill, and on March 2, 1895, they were called upon to look at a similar conflagration. About 12:30 o'clock Saturda,y 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 mill. 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, and 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. Kauffman does not rebuild, others will grasp the opportunity.

NOTES:
The President Merchant Mill and Elevator was constructed in 1859 by James Neimrick, and was the first mill in Bethalto. Like most modern mills of that era, it had "three runs of stones," with a manufacturing capacity of 100 barrels of flour daily. In 1877 the mill was torn down and rebuilt with a daily capacity of 500 barrels. Both members of the firm died about 1879, and it was leased to the E. O. Standard & Co., which operated the mill about one year. In January 1881, it was purchased by J. W. Kauffman, who increased the capacity to 600 barrels. Kauffman also owned the Park Mills in St. Louis, Missouri. In March 1882, a complete change was made, substituting the Gray Roller System in place of the Burrs, which was an improvement in milling of grain.

The mill was 54 x 80, and was five stories in height, with a stone basement. The elevator connected with the mill was 40 x 80, and was 85 feet high. It could store 70,000 bushels of wheat, and had an elevating capacity of 15,000 bushels of grain daily. A warehouse nearby, 65 x 150, stored 10,000 barrels of flour. There was also a cooper shop at the mill, and a railroad switch track from the main route to the mill.

The President Mill was destroyed by fire August 22, 1882, but was rebuilt. On March 2, 1895, the mill burned once again, but was never rebuilt.

 

MURDER IN BETHALTO
Henry Greaves Shot by John Faries
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 8, 1900
A revolver shot and the calls of a man for a doctor to attend a man who had been shot, nearly broke up a Republican meeting at Bethalto Saturday night. The crowd in the hall started for the door to learn who had been shot, and a panic at the door was averted by the coolness of the speaker, Hon. G. W. Patton, who urged the people to stay. The shooting occurred just outside a saloon in Bethalto. Henry Greaves was shot in the face by John Faries or Herbert Williams, two powder mill men who had gone to Bethalto for a Saturday night frolic. Greaves was intoxicated also, and it was some time before he could tell who did the shooting. He was found lying on the street corner in a semi-conscious condition with a bullet hole in his jaw, the bone fractured and blood spurting from the wound. The bullet entered the base of Greaves' brain, and the wound is considered very dangerous.

After the shooting, word was sent to East Alton to arrest the two men, and they were taken into custody. Deputy Sheriff Dreisoerner went to East Alton yesterday afternoon, took the two men to Bethalto, and there they were identified by Greaves as the men with whom he quarreled. Faries is charged with having fired the shot, and Williams also says he did. Greaves was brought to Alton today, and is at St. Joseph's Hospital where Dr. Yerkes is attending him. He is a son of Charles Greaves of Troy, and belongs to a well-known family. He is worse this afternoon and can hardly live. Faries and Williams were taken before the wounded man at Bethalto, and he identified both. Williams was placed under $500 bond, and Faries was put under $800 bond.

NOTES:
Henry Greaves died on October 11, 1900, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Alton. Funeral services were held in Bethalto. His father swore out a warrant, charging Herbert Williams with accessory to murder, and John Faries with murder. The two men were held without bail. The two men claimed the shooting was in self-defense.

Squire W. L. Piggott of Bethalto took the dying statement of Greaves, and after that time period, Piggott died. John Culp of Fosterburg was a bondsman for John Faries, and also the administrator of Piggott’s estate. The court requested Culp to produce the dying man’s statement, but it could not be found. Both Faries and Williams were released on bond in 1901. The trial was continued many times, and finally held in June 1902, with Senator J. J. Brenhold and Judge J. E. Dunnegan as attorneys for the defense. Since the dying statement of Henry Greaves could not be found, and there were no witnesses to the murder, the two men were acquitted.

 

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